Basketball: Home is a danger zone for Breakers

By Michael Brown

Gary Wilkinson has been battling health problems, but is confident he and the Breakers will come out on top. Photo / Richard Robinson
Gary Wilkinson has been battling health problems, but is confident he and the Breakers will come out on top. Photo / Richard Robinson

As paradoxical as it might sound, Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis thinks his side is entering a danger period, even though they have four consecutive home games.

Tonight they host the Adelaide 36ers in their first game at home since December 16, before taking on Melbourne, Sydney and Perth on their home court.

They have a six wins, one loss record in Auckland and might expect to win all four of their upcoming matches, but Lemanis thinks the next period is a slippery one.

"I think it gets more dangerous the longer you stay at home," said Lemanis.

"The first couple of games, the players are excited to be in front of their home fans but you can get in a little bit of rut, a bit like groundhog day, rocking up week after week at home. It's something we are aware of - but we also play Perth in that last game and everyone will be up for that."

The Wildcats, who share the lead on the competition ladder with the Breakers with 11 wins and five losses, are seen as the biggest threat to the defending champions.

They are particularly strong at home and the Breakers are keen to finish the regular season ahead of the Perth side to ensure they don't give up home advantage in the playoffs.

Gary Wilkinson, though, talks a different kind of game to his coach.

The big American import reflects the confidence in this Breakers outfit and talks about the "swagger" that was evident in their march to last season's title being in existence this season, too.

"Every game is ours to lose," he said. "I don't think there's a team in this competition, player to player, who are as talented as we are. It's just a matter of whether we're willing to put in the mental effort it takes to come out game after game and get it done. We are willing to do that.

"It's difficult, but that's what separates good teams from great teams. We have guys here who are totally dedicated to that and put team first. Whether it's difficult or not, we will do it.

"I think we are in a good position and can put ourselves in a great position. [We have] four home games now that we really have a great chance of winning and it would put us at 15-5 heading into the home stretch."

It helped they pulled off a 90-79 win over the Tigers in Melbourne on Sunday night, which snapped a two-game losing streak.

They should beat Adelaide, who are second-last on the ladder with five wins and 10 defeats - two from the Breakers (99-90 at home and 83-76 away).

The match at the North Shore Events Centre is a sellout, which is unusual at this time of year, but some fans might be suffering withdrawal symptoms after nearly a month without a game.

Wilkinson has had a difficult second season in the ANBL, as he's battled pubis and back complaints, but he hasn't missed a game and is contributing 15.6 points and 5.8 rebounds a game and shooting 50 per cent from the floor.

He also still pulls out the occasional chest pump as he plays to the crowd. There might be a few more if they can win their next four.

- APNZ

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