Badly blitzed Breakers not ready to panic
Thomas Abercrombie summed up the fatalistic attitude to a bad night at the office for the Australian NBL's defending champions. "You win some, you lose some," shrugged last year's finals MVP.
The NZ Breakers certainly lost Friday night's third home clash of the new season, getting thumped 81-63 by the Wollongong Hawks, who advanced their record to 3-5 and dropped the New Zealanders to 5-2.
The champs are adamant they have not become chumps overnight. Even if the statistical evidence from Friday night might suggest otherwise.
The Breakers were awful. They stunk the house out. They shot poorly (30% from the field; a miserable 17 from deep). They defended like cart horses. They fumbled their way to an inordinate number of missed layups. And they were bereft of scoring options once those long bombs stopped dropping.
But they are not panicking.
A year ago (nearly to the day), the Hawks came in and did the very same thing to a 5-1 Breakers side who had been travelling pretty well at that stage. And we all know how that worked out for Kiwis.
"We've just got to move on," said Abercrombie, who was just one of a number of Breakers to return sub-par performances, going only four-of-13 from the floor en route to nine points, four boards and three turnovers.
"It seems like every game before this one had something on it. Now we're into the grind of the season and you can't dwell on results. You win by 20, you lose by 20, you move on. We need to stay true to our processes, keep working hard in practice and the results will take care of themselves.
"We can't change what happened. We just have to try to get better."
It really was one of those nights for the Breakers, who disappointed a decent turnout of 3300 with their worst showing of the year.
Both in-form imports had shockers. Cedric Jackson probably should not have played, given the way he hobbled around on his one good leg and failed to get anything going. He was two-of-13 from the floor and had but one lonely assist.
Gary Wilkinson looked similarly out of sorts, Big Red making just two of his nine field goal attempts and grabbing two boards.
And so it continued. Mika Vukona went one-for-six and had four turnovers. CJ Bruton, the only Breaker to break double figures, was also two-for-nine and was unable to cash in on a fast start. Even big Alex Pledger missed a bunch of gimmes around the rim he'd normally make with his eyes closed.
"We understand all we can affect is the next day," coach Andrej Lemanis said.
"We don't get too high on the wins or too low on the losses. We'll watch the video, learn from it, talk about how we get better, then we'll all move on and try to get better during the week."
The one thing Friday night clearly spelt out, with the Melbourne Tigers also upset on their home court by the Townsville Crocodiles, is how much parity there is in this league.
"It's really tight," Lemanis said.
The Breakers lick their wounds and head to Cairns next Sunday. Moving on. And, hopefully, up.
Sunday Star Times