Basketball: Breakers better prepared than ever

By Steven Holloway

The importance of a strong preseason campaign is not lost on Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis. Photo / Getty Images.
The importance of a strong preseason campaign is not lost on Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis. Photo / Getty Images.

The importance of a strong pre-season campaign is not lost on Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis.

And the 2012 ANBL coach of the year believes that his side is better prepared than ever to win their third consecutive championship when their season kicks off with a grand final rematch against the Perth Wildcats at the North Shore Events Centre tomorrow night.

In previous years Lemanis has had to navigate a demanding international off-season where players filtered back in to the country up to 10 days before the season kicked off, but this year he has had the full group together for over a month of pre-season training.

"This time we actually have guys coming off a rest and we've been able to build and spend a bit more time together," he said.

"It's given us more time to put more sessions in and we are further advanced with how much we have done compared to previous years."

The Breakers won four of their opening six games in 2011 and five from six in 2012, and are targeting a perfect start this year to give them the best chance of achieving the much coveted 'three-peat'.

Lemanis welcomed the Wildcats fixture first up and said he was looking forward to finding out how successful their preseason campaign had been, by measuring it against a team that won the competition in 2010, met the Breakers in the grand final series in 2012 and the semifinals in 2011.

"Perth are very aggressive with the ball on the deck, they challenge you to guard their penetration, they shoot the three very well and smash the hell out of the offensive board. So you have to deal with all that but also deal with their pressure defence."

Lemanis said he had been pleased with the return of star swingman Tom Abercrombie who was on course to resume his starting duties in the small forward spot.

Abercrombie was sidelined the entire off and pre-season after having surgery to remove a bone chip from his ankle, and only returned to practice last week.

"He's getting better and able to do a bit more every day. At practice we are seeing more and more signs that he is getting back to 100 percent.

"There is nothing coming from the physios now, it's all about making a read on the situation on the night for us."

The Breakers are also buoyed by the return to fitness of new import Will Hudson and power forward Dillon Boucher, who both declared themselves healthy and fit at training today after battling illness throughout the week.

"They both looked a little worn yesterday but today they have both been good. Like any game, you play with what you see in front of you. If they're tired you sub them out if they're doing well you keep them in."

Lemanis said there was a good energy throughout the camp, and that all his players were excited about getting game-time and getting underway.

"There is a quiet confidence about the side, it has been a good preseason."

There are just 250 seats remaining to be sold for the game, where the Breakers will raise their second championship banner prior to tip-off, which is just after 7.30pm.

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