It may be premature to propose a power shift in the Australian NBL, but the defending champion Breakers know another loss tomorrow will hint at that possibility.
After being embarrassed by long-time rivals Perth to open the campaign, the Breakers face the upstart Adelaide 36ers at Vector Arena tomorrow night with a win required to remind the competition of their credentials.
With Perth's early favouritism was emphasised last weekend, a strengthened Adelaide side also made an early statement with a 24-point victory to reaffirm pre-season predictions pegging them as title contenders.
The Breakers have bossed this competition for the last two seasons and, while an 0-2 start would hardly be cause to push the panic button, dropping two games at home to their two closest challengers would be an early psychological blow.
Veteran forward Dillon Boucher was impressed by what he saw from Adelaide in their victory over Melbourne, but he remained unconcerned about the potential concession of initiative at this early stage.
"[Adelaide] had a very good, convincing first up win so they'll be riding high. They've done some great recruiting in the off-season and definitely, on paper, are one of the top teams in the league," he said.
"They're going to be a tough bunch to try to tackle and it'll be another good test for the Breakers, to go up against a top team and see if we've made improvements from last week.
"But I think it's more just doing it for ourselves. We've just got to tell ourselves we're back and convince ourselves."
That would seem easier said than done after last week's loss. Far from being back, the Breakers appeared to have stalled at the startline as last year's runners-up dominated all facets and dished up a dose of revenge in an unexpectedly effortless manner.
Boucher had no explanation for the limp performance but guaranteed the players had been doing their utmost this week at practice to ensure there would be no repeat.
"[The intensity] just wasn't there defensively last week. We need to be more intense throughout the whole game, rather than just patches," he said.
"This week we've really focused on our intensity and getting after it a bit more. There's been a bit more fire in the belly from the guys and it's been a good, intense week of training."
One aspect that aided the lift in atmosphere at training was a return to a building holding more than a few happy memories. Vector Arena is where the Breakers secured their second straight title, and Boucher said the Breakers were boosted as soon as they stepped foot in the venue.
"We trained there today and it's a great feeling to have some good memories. We got a good response from the fans last season so it's a venue we love playing in and it's always a good feeling when you go in there. We're excited to be back there playing and hopefully we can get some bums on seats."By Kris Shannon Email Kris