New Zealand Breakers look to lock down rotation in final three pre-season games

New Zealand Breakers coach Paul Henare will look to lock in his rotation in their upcoming pre-season matches.
Scott Barbour

New Zealand Breakers coach Paul Henare will look to lock in his rotation in their upcoming pre-season matches.

"Over the course of the three games, we had our good moments and we had some poor moments."

It was a simple summary for New Zealand Breakers coach Paul Henare on how his team performed in the Australian NBL's pre-season Blitz tournament in Victoria last week.

"One of the main things coming out of the Blitz was to make sure we're as healthy as can be and we did a good job of managing the loads of all the guys through that tournament and the boys have done well," Henare said. 

With a 2-1 record, the side achieved what they set out to and now cast their eye to three final pre-season tilts.

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The Breakers will play Melbourne United in Taradale (September 17) and New Plymouth (September 19) before hosting the Brisbane Bullets in Tauranga (September 27) as they look to shore up their systems ahead of the ANBL season. 

While a number of the younger guys in the squad saw quality court time during the Blitz, Henare said that wouldn't be the case when the team hit the regions. 

"We used the Blitz for that, to really share the load.

"Coming into these games against Melbourne and Brisbane we'll probably shorten up the rotations a little bit more because we only have these games before we start the season so we really need to start fine tuning our systems and our rotations so they look more like they will in the regular season."

Tall Blacks quartet Shea Ili, Finn Delany, Jordan Ngatai and Derone Ruakawa were among those who were likely to see their roles decline.

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All four played big roles in the Tall Blacks' campaign at the Fiba Asia Cup in Beirut last month as the national side went young, showing positive signs for the future.

However, the depth in the Breakers squad meant they would have to wait for their shot in the ANBL. 

"Obviously going into that Tall Blacks campaign, guys like Shea and Finn and Jordan and Derone, they had a significantly different role to what they'll have in this programme.

"That's not to take away anything from them as players, but they've got some good quality players around or in front of them in their position and for me it's about each of those guys continuing to grow and learn."

Imports D.J. Newbill and Edgar Sosa will likely see more minutes leading into the start of the season, with Sosa missing much of the Blitz with an Achilles niggle. 

"He was pretty frustrated at not being able to get out on the floor and work into a bit of rhythm, but this early on we wanted to make sure he was right come the start of the season."

The side have only filled two of their three available import spots for the season, with both Newbill and Sosa playing in the back court, as they show their faith in their Kiwi big men. 

Big men Alex Pledger, Rob Loe and Mika Vukona will likely play big roles, with Henare praising Vukona's preparation for the season ahead. 

"He's injury free, he's moving well, he's fit and probably the best he's been leading into a season than he has been in quite some time."

At a glance

Sunday 17 September: NZ Breakers v Melbourne United, Pettigrew Green Arena, Taradale. 7pm tip-off.
Tickets: Adult $25. Child (14 year and under) $15. Family (2 adults and 2 children) $65 (+ service fees).

Tuesday 19 September: NZ Breakers v Melbourne United, TSB Stadium, New Plymouth. 7pm tip-off.
Tickets:  Adult $30. Child (11 and under) $15. Family (2 adults and 2 children) $80. Student $20 (+ service fees).

 - Stuff

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