Basketball: Improved Jackson back for Breakers

By Kris Shannon

Cedric Jackson. Photo / Getty Images.
Cedric Jackson. Photo / Getty Images.

Not only did Cedric Jackson come back from the United States to help the Breakers with their quest for a three-peat - he came back with an improved shot.

After leading the Breakers to their second straight Australian NBL championship, Jackson spent the off-season in his homeland chasing his American dream.

The 26-year-old has previously enjoyed stints with two NBA teams and, in his desire to once again crack into the best league in the world, he decided to amend his shooting technique.

Jackson's jump shot was the one area of his game in most need of enhancing, with his speed, ball-handling and defence seeing him finish third in last season's MVP voting.

But with pacy point guards a dime a dozen in America, Jackson's game required another weapon.

"He's certainly been working on his shooting technique a lot, and that was one of the things that was noticeable with him coming back," coach Andrej Lemanis said. "His technique changed a little bit and it's a little better."

That much has been evident in the Breakers' opening two games. Jackson shot a respectable seven of 16 attempts from the floor, including five three-pointers, in the defending champions' opening round loss to Perth, while he drained three of four from deep in their bounce-back win over Adelaide on Friday night.

In a dynamic decisive quarter, Jackson helped the Breakers finally bust out of their offensive slump. Not content to merely run the Breakers' offence, Jackson decided to take control of it with the help of his new and improved shot.

His play in the final period saw his side pull away from the pesky 36ers, with his 10 points complemented by three assists, three steals and two rebounds.

Lemanis was more than happy to see Jackson take the majority of the Breakers' shots, feeling the import found the right balance between dishing to open teammates and draining the basket when the opportunity was presented.

"He has the ball in his hands a lot and we ask a lot of him to go ahead and make plays, to get in the key and makes things happen for either him or his teammates.

"A lot of teams challenge him to make shots - some just stay connected to our shooters and challenge him to go ahead and make plays."

As 36ers coach Marty Clarke confirmed, that's what Adelaide attempted - and make plays Jackson did.

"Basketball is an offensive game and you have to pick your poison," Clarke said. "With him, we initially decided [the three-pointer] was the shot we'd give him. We weren't going to give him anything at the rim."

The strategy backfired as Jackson found his range, sending the Breakers streaking to a morale-boosting victory. If his new shot continues to show the consistency it has so far, chances are Jackson will have the Breakers back contesting the title.

And if that proves to be the case, another shot at the big time will be right around the corner.

- APNZ

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