Basketball: Breakers in business on the road

By Kris Shannon

Alex Pledger. Photo / Getty Images
Alex Pledger. Photo / Getty Images

The Breakers celebrated a New Year's Eve victory with a few quiet drinks, and if their road streak stretches to three tomorrow (Sat) they would be entitled to a few more.

The defending champions will face Wollongong for the first time this season tomorrow night, aiming to enhance their league-leading road record of five wins from seven games.

Taking care of business away from home has helped the Breakers to create both breathing room atop the Australian NBL standings and a level of comfort when embarking on arduous road trips.

They've made their current swing across the Tasman look easy, with wins over Adelaide and Cairns, and another triumph tomorrow would provide the possibility of a perfect record ahead of next week's final leg against last-placed Townsville.

Traditionally, the New Year period has proved demanding for the Breakers, with the schedule throwing up almost as many challenges as the opposition deliver on the court, and this year has been no different.

But so far the Breakers have overcome those challenges, as evidenced by the club's first successful New Year's Eve party, a five-point victory in Cairns.

Seven-foot centre Alex Pledger said the travel can be tough on the players' big bodies, but the difficulties created have been assuaged by an able staff.

"It can be pretty tough but the coaches are pretty smart with how long we go for in practice,'' he said. "Our physio and manager and support staff are pretty good when it comes to recovery and players staying hydrated and all that sort of stuff.

"It's definitely not easy, but we do everything we can to make sure we're ready come game time.''

The coaches' preparations for the Cairns clash extended to providing some well-deserved refreshments after the game, as the team saw in the new year with quiet contentment.

"We had a few quiet ones later on in the night at the hotel, then went and watched the fireworks,'' Pledger said. "It was a pretty cool night and it was great to get that monkey off the back about not winning a New Year's Eve game.''

Getting rid of that monkey also means the Breakers will take a two-game lead over third-placed Wollongong into tomorrow night's game, a handy buffer as they aim to begin 2013 how they intend to finish the regular season - in the comfort of the top two and possessing home court advantage in the playoffs.

"Winning those games against those top four teams is very good for your own team's confidence, and it's also good to send that message to the rest of the league as well,'' Pledger said. "I think we've done a decent job of that already.''

Wollongong is the one top-four team the Breakers are yet to face this season, and they are something of an unknown quantity after improving on poor recent campaigns. The Hawks' 8-5 record includes two wins over Perth, the Breakers' arch-rivals, and Pledger was well aware of the danger they posed.

"They have some very good penetrating guards and good outside shooting, including their big men. We have defensive roles and some of their players challenge those with their ability to stretch the floor.

"We're pretty confident at the moment. It's not an easy place to win but it should be a good game.''

- APNZ

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