Basketball: Jackson promises more action with Breakers

By Michael Brown

Auckland is not exactly where Cedric Jackson hoped he would be right now, but now he is here, he intends to make the most of it. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Auckland is not exactly where Cedric Jackson hoped he would be right now, but now he is here, he intends to make the most of it. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Auckland is not exactly where Cedric Jackson hoped he would be right now, but now he is here, he intends to make the most of it.

The 26-year-old chased an NBA contract over the off-season, coming closest with the San Antonio Spurs, but he has had to put those ambitions on hold for another year after returning to the Breakers for a second season.

The North Shore club are quite happy about that. As much as they would have taken some satisfaction from seeing Jackson return to the NBA - he played briefly for three teams in 2010 - they know they have one of the best players in the league on their hands.

In his first season, Jackson brought a speed not seen before at the Breakers and it allowed his teammates to thrive. If he wasn't driving to the basket, he was dishing the ball off or hustling the opposition on defence. He led the league in assists (6.5 a game) and steals (2.2) and his 75 steals was a club record. He also contributed 12.8 points and 5.4 rebounds.

They are impressive numbers and Jackson was a little aggrieved not to pick up the league's MVP award - he finished fourth in the voting behind Perth's Kevin Lische. It's just one of the things driving him this season and, if he achieves that goal, chances are the Breakers will have come close to achieving the third successive ANBL title.

That quest starts with a matchup against Perth at the North Shore Events Centre on Friday night - a repeat of last season's grand final series. It is an appropriate way for the ANBL season to start and a game Jackson will be ready for after coming into last season cold.

The point guard knows what the Australian league is all about now but, equally, the league is familiar with him and some teams might believe they know how to nullify him.

"It's not a disadvantage," he said confidently. "I take challenges on. People try to stop a lot of things we can do but it's kind of impossible to stop a player from doing everything they do well. It's just about changing things up."

Jackson has some subtle variations to add to his game after the work he did in the off-season but will need to improve his jump shot if he is ever to become an NBA regular. It doesn't look natural and there are plenty of pure shooters who are just as quick as Jackson in the US.

He shot at 42.6 per cent from the floor and just 25.5 per cent (25 from 98 attempts) from beyond the three-point arc.

Others like Tom Abercrombie (43.4 per cent), Gary Wilkinson (40.9) and Daryl Corletto (40) were more successful from three-point land last season but, without Wilkinson who has left the club, the Breakers will look to go inside more and utilise the size of Alex Pledger and Will Hudson.

It's something that will present opportunities for Jackson.

"It works out really well for me," he said. "We have great post targets ... so it forces a double team and we can work around it.

"I will pretty much be doing the same thing [as last season]. We still have plenty of shooters so the floor will definitely stay open. Guys have to stay home on our shooters [to defend them] and that opens up the floor for me."

There is one floor he covets the most, however. That will have to wait a few more months.

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- APNZ

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