NZ Breakers do what they have to to win

MARC HINTON
Last updated 17:04 21/01/2013
Dillon Boucher
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TIME TO GO: Dillon Boucher is at peace with his decision to retire at the end of this NBL season.

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OPINION: It’s time, people... time for us all to stop digging so hard for what’s wrong with the New Zealand Breakers, and just embrace what’s so damn right about them.

How about those Breakers? They won again last Thursday at the NSEC. And then again yesterday in Adelaide. That’s seven straight, five of them on the road. Not that you’d know it because all anyone seems to be talking about in New Zealand sport is the Black Caps soap opera, recidivist rugby bad boy Zac Guildford and the imploding Phoenix footballers.

Bad news is hot, we all know that.

But every now and again we should stop and smell the roses.

And right now the Breakers’ continued success in the Australian National Basketball League is about as good as it gets in New Zealand sport, even if there remains a strange reluctance to laud the achievements of these guys.

The Breakers two years ago became the first New Zealand franchise to conquer the trans-Tasman sporting Everest and win a major Australian championship.

Then they repeated the dose 12 months later by defending their title. They’ve blazed a trail of excellence.

But neither feat earned them even a finalist spot in the Halberg Awards which have regarded the Breakers with the same sort of attitude a businessman might have for some doggy-do on the bottom of his shoe.

Anyway, it’s all subjective and undoubtedly arguments can be made every which way when it comes to ranking sporting feats over a calendar year.

What we do know is the Breakers are not just a superbly structured and well-intentioned organisation, but they’re also a hell of a basketball club who have mastered the art of sustained excellence.

This season there’s been a lot of mumbling and grumbling about the imperfect nature of their performances, even while they’ve been steamrolling their way to a 15-3 record.

Read the reports on some websites and you would think this was the worst team in the league, not the best. I guess that’s what success does. It raises expectations. No longer can you just win, but you have to do it with a certain style.

And I’ve got to put my hand up and say I’ve had the odd crack.

They’ve struggled at times to shoot the ball and have yet to establish a smoothness or synchronicity at the offensive end. Their defence has been better, but even there they’ve had periods where that side of their game goes missing.

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Yet they keep winning.

They’re a little reliant on the brilliant Cedric Jackson who’s a lock for league MVP and can do everything except knock down a consistent jumper.

Yet they keep winning.

They’ve seen Tom Abercrombie so hobbled by his ankle problems that for much of the first part of the season he was a shadow of his usual self.

Yet they keep winning.

They’ve only got two players averaging double-figures in scoring, they’re one of the worst free-throw shooting teams in the league and they feature two 37-year-olds in their playing rotation.

Yet they keep winning.

More than half their victories this season have been by single figures and four have been by a bucket or less.

Yet they keep winning.

They seem strangely incapable of putting together four strong quarters and sometimes appear as if they actually enjoy the challenge of hauling in a lead.

Yet … Ok, you get the picture.

This is a heck of a ball club who still have a ton of upside this season, and may well need it the way the Perth Wildcats are playing.

Right now with the Breakers and Cats (12-4) having opened up a near insurmountable gap on their nearest pursuers, you could almost write them down for a grand final repeat in April. And that will be something special.

But for now I would urge everyone to forget the imperfections of these Breakers and just celebrate what is good about them.

They’re deep, they’re hard-nosed, they play for each other, they’re talented, they’re clutch, they’re getting better, they have the best player in the league, and the best athlete, and, yes, they’re winners.

This week the Breakers have another tough double, with the Sydney Kings at home on Thursday night and then the Wollongong Hawks back across the ditch on Saturday afternoon.

They’re fatigued and jet-lagged and a little banged up. But they’ll do what they have to because it’s what they do.

Just don’t expect it to be pretty. 

- Stuff

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