Basketball: Breakers will have say in who they meet

The Breakers square off against the Blaze tomorrow tonight. Photo / Getty Images
The Breakers square off against the Blaze tomorrow tonight. Photo / Getty Images

The Breakers like to be in control of their own destiny and they will have a large hand in who they might meet in the upcoming playoffs.

The North Shore-based club sewed up the minor premiership with their win over Adelaide last weekend but sill meet the third-placed Gold Coast Blaze twice over the next fortnight (home and away) as well as Townsville, who are fourth.

The results of those matches will have a significant bearing on the playoffs. Perth (17-9) will finish either second or third, meaning the Breakers will face Gold Coast (15-10), Townsville (15-11) or Cairns (14-12) in the semifinals. The top team will meet the fourth-placed club in a best-of-three series, with two playing three, and it's possible the contenders and order won't be finalised until the last day of the regular season.

The Breakers are determined not to let their standards slip in that time and games against playoffs contenders will help. They were guilty of that at the end of last season and struggled to match Perth when the playoffs kicked off.

"I really like our schedule, to finish the season against playoff teams," Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis said. "It helps keep the intensity and the guys battle-hardened going into the playoffs.

"Last year we played teams outside the final four and suddenly got to the playoffs and there was that lift in intensity. You can get caught on the back foot. We have had a good chat as a group about [the danger of slipping off] and we are pretty intent on carrying this momentum through.

"It was good to get that top spot secured and there needs to be some recognition we have managed to do it two years in a row. That's an achievement in itself. Having said that, we need to move on. It's a matter of going out and winning the championship and finishing first gives you a good opportunity to do that and we need to do what we can to make the most of it."

The club will certainly do that financially with confirmation all of their playoffs games will be at Vector Arena, starting with their first game on March 30. Capacity will be increased to 8500 and some thought is being given to shipping in the rims from the North Shore Events Centre to help the players adjust.

The club have already played three games at Vector this season and are planning to increase that number to five next season as they meet demand - only one of their home games this year hasn't sold out.

They could well see a squad that is almost identical to the one playing this season. BJ Anthony is already on their books, Daryl Corletto has signed for an additional two years and they are on the verge of confirming new deals with Tom Abercrombie, Mika Vukona, CJ Bruton, Alex Pledger and Dillon Boucher.

What is holding negotiations up in some instances is each player's points rating - 10 players must fit under 70 points; with two development players on top of that - but that should be confirmed by the league soon.

"It's looking positive with all the guys we are talking to," Breakers general manager Richard Clarke said. "It's just the player points and whether it stacks up. We need to make sure we don't sign a team we can't actually have but we look like we should be able to retain the core of the team next year.

"We will definitely offer [imports] Gary Wilkinson and Cedric Jackson the chance to come back but it's whether it works for them."

- APNZ

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