The SKYCITY Breakers celebrated their season at the clubs Annual Celebration Dinner at SKYCITY tonight, with Kirk Penney the big winner on the night, taking away two of the clubs player awards.
The club was in buoyant spirits, despite just missing a place in the playoffs on a frenetic final weekend of the regular season, with a focus on continued growth in the club on and off the court, with club General Manager Dillon Boucher speaking of his pride in what was a challenging year.
"As a first year General Manager, I want to thank everyone at the club for their support in a season that threw a few surprises our way, to say the least. From our volunteers who are the lifeblood of our game nights, to our season members who support us through thick and thin, to our commercial partners who share our values and our goals, thank you.
"While tonight is very much about the team and celebrating their collective and individual achievements, I also want to say a huge thanks to the off-court team, my team. I appreciate more than ever the work you do and the commitment you make to the club, thank you.
"I am extremely positive about what lies ahead, and on the learning that we have taken from this year. Without doubt we have the right team in place in all areas of the club to enjoy a successful season, on and off court, while we might still be in debrief mode for the moment, next year cant come soon enough."
Penney took out the MVPs MVP (voted for by the fans) and the team MVP for the season. He was one of only two players to appear in all 28 games this year, averaging 17.4 points per game and was always a threat to opposing teams with his outside shooting and basketball smarts.
Penney is also now 8th on the all-time appearance list with 138 games in his two stints with the club and the first and only Breaker to go beyond 3000 points for the club.
Penney thanked the club owners Paul and Liz Blackwell, management staff and coaching and support team for their efforts during the season, as well as his wife Audra, a former professional volleyball player that he also leans on for guidance and advice throughout the season.
"I am not sure I am the obvious winner of this, maybe it is because I am the oldest and I played the most games, I am not sure. What I do know is there are so many players on this team that deserve this award and I want to thank everyone for the season.
"We have such a great group of guys and I cant wait for next year, there really is something special in this group and I have enjoyed what has been a tough season immensely. I have to mention a couple of the younger guys in Shea and Finn, the way you took control of that last game of the season just says so much about your growth this year and the potential you have within you.
"I want to shout out each one of my team mates, but to my roomie, to you Mika, you are amazing. It has been so great to be back playing alongside you again, it has been too long, I have enjoyed every minute of it. I know the two of us are the old guys, but I hope we are doing something right and setting the right example to the others, I know you are. It has been tough seeing you unwell this past week or so. I seriously cant wait for next season."
Defensive player of the Year went to Tom Abercrombie. A new award at the club, coaches picked the player that had most influenced games by their work without the ball, often a feature of Paul Henare coached teams.
"This is a real honour to be the first to receive this award, I want to thank the coaching staff, my team mates, Paul and Liz and everyone at the club for their support. I still believe that Breakers basketball is proudly based on strong defence, it is in our DNA and something we have always been able to hang our hat on.
"I want to thank my wife Monique for her support, it has not been easy managing a little one at home, as well as an injured player. Any of the partners will tell you there is nothing worse than a whining player to deal with, and in my case with a broken hand I was off nappy changing for six weeks, so thank you Monique for your love and support."
Young Player of the Year and the recipient of the Paul Henare Cup was Sam Waardenburg. The former Rangitoto College student is a Development Player with the club and this year was a standout, as he led Rangitoto to back to back School Championships and played a pivotal role in the Junior Tall Blacks win at the Oceania Championships.
Waardenburg was not present on the night as he is already in the United States on a scholarship with the University of Miami, his proud parents Eric and Norny accepted the award on his behalf.
In other awards presented on the night, the prestigious Brian Pankhurst Club Person of the Year award went to longtime volunteer Fiona Marmot. Marmot manages the club volunteers throughout the season, something she has done since 2004. Fiona is often changing her shifts at work to fit in around her voluntary role with the club, one that sees her spend endless hours on the phone, checking emails and ensuring that the volunteers are in the right place at the right time, playing what is an integral role in the success of the club.
The club highlighted some of the great work done in the community, often with the players a little less serious than seen on game night as they engage with fans, schoolchildren and charity groups.
That work has seen an amazing 13,000 schoolchildren impacted on through the direct involvement of the SKYCITY Breakers, with coaching, equipment and mentoring taking place throughout the year under the watchful eye of Community Manager Hayden Allen.
The evening was rounded off in traditional style, with a presentation to each of the players by club Directors Paul and Liz Blackwell, with players partners and wives also recognized for their role throughout the season.
2017 Awards Evening
Brian Pankhurst Club Person of the Year
Paul Henare Cup, Young Player of the Year
Defensive Player of the Year
MVPs MVP of the Year (fans choice)