Basketball: Breakers hope history will repeat

By Kris Shannon

Mika Vukona says the Breakers are out for revenge against the Crocs.  Photo / Getty Images
Mika Vukona says the Breakers are out for revenge against the Crocs. Photo / Getty Images

When the Breakers travelled to Perth last year with their season on the line, two things happened.

Firstly, Mika Vukona, his campaign appearing cut short by a painful knee injury, hobbled on to the court to inspire his team before game two of the semifinals.

Then, Kirk Penney scored 38 points to lead the Breakers to a series-levelling four-point victory.

A year later and history has repeated. The Breakers again came out flat to open the post-season, dropping game one at home to Townsville last Friday night, and are now facing another must-win game in another hostile environment.

Added to that is the worrying ankle injury to Cedric Jackson that puts his involvement in serious doubt. He has travelled to Townsville and the club are confident he could play some part in tonight's must-win, but it is unsure how effective he will be.

Like Vukona, Jackson is a key member of the side and it is only hoped his involvement might inspire them this time around.

Even if Jackson does not play, Vukona is adamant they can win and force a deciding third game back at Vector Arena on Saturday.

"Man, we're No 1," he said. "That's our motivation. We played like we were the eight seed out there last weekend, that's not the way to play.

"We owe it to ourselves, we owe it to all those who have backed us. If that's not motivation enough, then you might as well just stay home."

As for the lack of Penney, Vukona is equally vocal about what remains in the Breakers' arsenal.

'Hell yeah, we've got weapons. We've shown it all year - we're not just one person any more. We go 10 deep in this team.

"The best games we have are when six or seven guys are in double figures - that's our game and that's how we're going to beat the Townsville Crocs."

In case those fighting words failed to provide a clue, Vukona described the team as "pretty angry" about their playoff debut at Vector Arena. Allowing a season-high 99 points and losing the rebound battle are not usually the ingredients which make up Breakers basketball.

"As much as we're trying to put [game one] aside, I think that can be used as motivation going into the next game," Vukona said. "We've got our backs to the wall at the moment. We've got to just go out there, have fun and be who we are. That's the good thing about it, you've got another game to play. If you want to win, you've got to put things aside. We did that last year.

"We're not trying to emulate last year - this is a whole new group - but I think we can take lessons from that."

The Breakers are yet to show signs of learning from last year's mistakes so far in the post-season. A subdued end to the regular season, due to their own dominance in securing the minor premiership so early, was followed in 2011 by a 23-point loss at home to Perth.

Swap 23 for 17 and Perth for Townsville, and 2012's storyline is familiar. Vukona thought the low-key end to the season may have engendered a lack of focus, but he also tipped his cap to the opposition for showing just the opposite.

Now the Breakers want revenge.

"Thursday, It's going to be a battle," Vukona said. "I rank playing in Townsville up there with Perth - it's one of the toughest places to play.

"If we can get a win up there it's going to be sweet."

- APNZ

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