Breakers in dance of the desperates

By Michael Brown

The Breakers are in the unusual position of having won their opening match of the ANBL playoffs. Photo / Getty Images.
The Breakers are in the unusual position of having won their opening match of the ANBL playoffs. Photo / Getty Images.

The Breakers are in the unusual position of having won their opening match of the ANBL playoffs but their experiences over the past couple of seasons means they will know exactly what they will face in game two in Sydney on Monday afternoon.

The Breakers can wrap up their semifinal series against the Kings on Monday after their comfortable 81-64 win at Vector Arena last night but are wary of an opposition fighting for their survival. Of course, the Breakers were beaten in the first game of the playoffs on each of the last two seasons and faced elimination if they didn't win the second game.

It's that experience which could prove valuable, especially with a number of old heads in their team like Dillon Boucher, Mika Vukona and CJ Bruton who remember what it was like for them.

"Any time you play someone facing elimination, they're desperate,'' coach Andrej Lemanis said. "It's always the challenge. It's about rising up for that next game.

"It's a good opportunity for us to see where we are at, to meet that. We have experienced this before and I think that's one of the advantages we have. We are playoff-hardened. We understand what it takes and where it goes in playoffs and the fact that, when people face elimination, their desperation is that one level up. We have to match that desperation. If you don't, you lose. If you do, you have a chance to win.''

If they do, they will progress to the grand final series and be one step closer to claiming a famous three-peat. The form book would suggest they would meet arch-rivals Perth, who thrashed Wollongong 93-65 in their opening playoffs match on Friday night and who can wrap up their spot in the grand final on Sunday.

Dangerously, Perth are on a 14-game winning streak and have lost only once in their new venue, and that was in the opening game to lowly Adelaide.

The Breakers are trying not to look ahead to any potential match-up with Perth and they just need to look at the other games they have had against Sydney this season to remember that. The Kings are one of only two teams to beat the Breakers this season and lost two other games on the final shot of the match.

It's something Shane Heal pointed out after Thursday night's game and the Sydney coach said his players couldn't afford to limp out of Auckland with their heads down.

"That's not how you turn series around,'' he said. ``It's about making adjustments, staying positive and coming in with a desire to beat a championship team.

"I've seen series turn around very quickly. Our goal now is to send it to a game three. If we do that and come back, then we'll give ourselves a chance. We have to hang in there. We've been going against the odds all year - everyone predicted we were going to finish last. There's not a whole lot to lose for us but there's a lot of things to be able to gain.''

- APNZ

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