'Angry' Breakers laying in wait for Taipans
The Breakers have had their angry faces on this week as they've worked through the fallout of their worst performance of the season in Sydney.
Tonight at Vector Arena, they'll be hoping to turn irritation to celebration as they host the Cairns Taipans in a Christmas themed Australian NBL game which is also veteran Dillon Boucher's 200th appearance for the club in his farewell season.
The key for the Breakers, in front of another big crowd at their downtown secondary home venue, will be continuing their season theme of bouncing back well off defeats. And Saturday night's 75-62 tidy-up by the Kings was arguably the most disappointing of the three they've suffered this campaign.
The two 20-point spankings at the hands of the Perth Wildcats were disappointing, but what you get when you don't bring your A game against an outfit as good as the boys from the wild west.
But to get so comprehensively thumped by a Sydney side they'd won seven straight against, well that hurt.
"The weight on this club when you've been winning, it feels like we've got eight losses," said veteran guard CJ Bruton whose 18 points off the bench were a rare highlight against the Kings.
"We've got to learn from it like we did the other two losses. We've been good at bouncing back from defeats. We come in, the coach is grumpier, everyone's a little more physical, and we take it out on the next team that we play against."
Bruton said it was important to make that correction now after a game where the starters couldn't hit the ocean from the pier (nine-for-41 collectively) and the whole team was outplayed in the effort areas.
"It's about understanding where we're at right now," said Bruton who's had his own struggles this season. "December and January are big months. It's a time when you can stretch away or end in the middle of the pack or finish dead last.
"We're in a pretty good spot, but it's not where we want to be. It's not so much taking the loss, it's the way we lost. We've got to learn from that."
Expect the Breakers starters to be switched on this week, and quality performers like Mika Vukona, Tom Abercrombie and Alex Pledger to lift their levels. Cedric Jackson has been carrying the team this season, but he could do with some assistance.
"It happens in the NBA, it happens all around the world," said Bruton of the starters' off-night in Sydney. "You stick with what you have, and it's up to us to bring that injection off the bench."
Coach Andrej Lemanis said he wouldn't be making any changes to his rotations on the back of one bad night, and that's a good call. These fellows have earned the right to make their adjustments, and restore their reputations.
They may need to against a Taipans side whose last outing was a quality home victory over the Wollongong Hawks.
But Lemanis isn't sure a bye round would have done the men from North Queensland any favours.
"They had a good win and I'm sure they were feeling good about life. The rhythm of that can sometimes help you," he said. "The last two weeks we've had eight-day breaks between games and it's hard to bring rhythm with that."
The Snakes, said Lemanis, deserve respect. They have some sharpshooters from distance, an excellent playmaker in Jamar Wilson and a quality frontline headed by Cameron Tragardh who always finds ways to score against the Breakers.
But, as usual, the Breakers will control their own destiny. If they bring that intensity on defence and the boards, they'll find those shots soon start dropping again.
Then that big crowd can really have some fun.
NZ Breakers: Cedric Jackson, Daryl Corletto, CJ Bruton, Corey Webster, Tom Abercrombie, Leon Henry, Mika Vukona, Dillon Boucher, Alex Pledger, Will Hudson.
Cairns Taipans: Jamar Wilson, Brad Hill, Aaron Grabau, Shaun Bruce, Shane Edwards, Clint Steindl, Cameron Gliddon, Alex Loughton, Dusty Rychart, Cameron Tragardh.