Basketball: Abercrombie aiming for all-star form

By Kris Shannon

Tom Abercrombie. Photo / Getty Images.
Tom Abercrombie. Photo / Getty Images.

Tom Abercrombie may be below his all-star best this season, but he's hoping this weekend's All-Star Game will prove a catalyst for a comeback.

Adelaide will host the first Australian NBL All-Star Game in five years and Abercrombie, along with Cedric Jackson and coach Andrej Lemanis, will fly the flag for the league-leading Breakers.

Although Lemanis - coach of the competition's best team - and Jackson - the competition's best player - were locks to be selected for the showpiece, Abercrombie's patchy form leaves him possibly lucky to have been voted in as a starter.

Abercrombie admitted he has been disappointed by his personal game through the first three months of the campaign, but said he was happy he had been given a chance to showcase his ability alongside the best the ANBL had to offer.

"I don't think I'm playing anywhere near the level that I want to be or that I was playing at last year," he said. "But the fans have voted me in and I'll go out there and give it my best shot and try to repay the faith.

"I'm not really too worried about that other stuff, it'll take care of itself."

The 25-year-old is averaging 10.3 points on 38 per cent shooting in 12 games this season, down from the 15.2 points on 46 per cent shooting from last season's breakout campaign.

There is, of course, a mitigating factor behind the decline, a left ankle which continues to pose problems some eight months since it was initially injured.

Abercrombie said the joint was still short of 100 per cent, and for a player who relies so much on his athleticism even the slightest hinderance could be debilitating.

"It does bother me every now and then - certain movements. That's frustrating because I obviously want that to be 100 per cent and not have to think about it. But at the same time it's about trying to put it out of your mind and just go out there with 100 per cent confidence."

Along with the limitation in movement, the ankle was also providing some mental limitation. That is perhaps natural when an athlete spends so much time above the rim then, all of a sudden, the springs in his feet fail to fully function.

"It's just a matter of trying to get that confidence, that touch and feel back. That's just going to come if I keep hammering away at it.

"It's most certainly been frustrating but I think I'm on the right track."

Despite his slow start to the season, Abercrombie said the Breakers never considered shutting him down to allow the ankle to fully heal.

"It'll come right with the bit more time. Rest isn't really going to make much difference at this stage.

"I'm not going to do anything worse to it. I just have to play through a little bit of discomfort - that's what I've been trying to do."

Abercrombie has in recent games shown flashes of getting back to his former self, and he's aiming to continue that in Adelaide this weekend.

The ankle must certainly be feeling slightly better - the injury wasn't enough to prevent one of the league's best practitioners from being involved in the slam dunk competition.

Abercrombie said he has been working on a couple of dunks at practice this week - though don't expect him to leap over a car like the LA Clippers' Blake Griffin.

"I've never been the most flashy kind of dunker so I'll see what I can do. I'll go out there and have a bit of fun."

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a5 at 25 Apr 2014 12:54:30 Processing Time: 961ms