Basketball: Breakers on verge of history

By Kris Shannon

Leon Henry. Photo / Getty Images
Leon Henry. Photo / Getty Images

For all their successes in recent year the Breakers have a chance to achieve something unprecedented this week.

With seven straight victories under their belts, the ANBL champions can equal a club record with a win against Sydney on Thursday before possibly breaking that mark in Wollongong on Saturday.

It will be far from easy - the schedule has made sure of that with another home-away double-header - but this Breakers team refuses to let a trivial detail like travel disrupt their charge.

The opposition, sitting third and fourth on the ladder, will also pose some problems. Sydney is the only side other than Perth to beat the Breakers this season, while the North Shore club possess a paltry 4-12 record on Wollongong's home court.

But the manner in which the Breakers have been racking up the wins has created the impression that the only team in the Australian NBL capable of halting their run is the Breakers themselves.

Well, them and Perth.

The Wildcats ended the Breakers' other seven-game winning streak this campaign, and all roads are leading to a rematch of last year's grand final series.

In fact, if the Breakers beat Sydney at the North Shore Events Centre on Thursday night, New Zealand and Perth will stand alone as the only teams in the competition with winning records.

The dual incentives of prolonging their winning streak and practically locking up a top-two spot should provide more than enough motivation during practice this week, something possibly lacking of late.

The Breakers have formed a habit in recent weeks of falling behind in games, or failing to put away poor teams, before storming home in the second half.

After yesterday's victory against lowly Adelaide, a game which was tied at the major break, assistant coach Dean Vickerman theorised that trailing in games was what his players needed to truly hit their straps.

"This group has to be motivated and sometimes their motivation comes from being a few behind," he said. "We know in close games - which we've had recently - that we're better than any team in the league in the last two minutes of the game, and we've showed that in all the tight games this year."

Swingman Leon Henry, who made a key contribution off the bench against the 36ers with 10 points, agreed with Vickerman and said it was something the team had spoken about.

"It has been the topic over the last few games, how we ... have slow starts until halftime when we get a little bit of a wake-up call because we're stuck close to teams that we shouldn't be. As we move along I'm sure we'll start seeing a few blowouts further down towards the playoffs."

Despite looking jaded last week, the Breakers played as fresh as they have all season in the second half at Adelaide Arena, and Henry revealed the repetitive trans-Tasman flights had few ill effects.

"We're actually feeling pretty good," he said. "Everyone's saying it's going to take a toll on us being on the road and all that but, come game night, we're always ready to get that win."

And if that feeling remains in place this week the Breakers could write a new record in an already historic three-year stretch.

- APNZ

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