The SKYCITY Breakers head away to Melbourne for the NBL Blitz today, with some clear goals and objectives as to what they are looking to achieve so early in their pre-season.

With eight practices under their belt ahead of the first game tomorrow and with three games in four days, Head Coach Paul Henare says the trip is all about the Breakers, with little time set to be spent on the opposition and what they might bring to the table.

"This is a chance for us to work on who we are, on and off court. It is not solely about results, it is about specific areas of our game and getting to know each other. There will be very little scouting done for these games, with the focus very much on us and what we want to get out of each game."

Henare says there has been an obvious upside to many of his senior players being rested from the recent Tall Blacks campaign at the Asia Cup.

"What I have noticed is how fresh they are and the energy that they are bringing to the pre-season, that is having an effect on the entire group too. They are all experienced enough to know how to prepare and be ready for the start of the season, but the off-season has enabled them to get their bodies right.

"In the case of Mika, he has pretty much spent since the end of February making sure he is fit and ready to go, he had a hell of a season last year in terms of what he put his body through, but the break has been great for him and he is looking in great shape and is mentally recharged too."

Henare has not settled on a starting five at this early stage of the pre-season, saying that will become clear over the coming weeks. There is no doubt that competition within the group will be intense though, with the likes of Finn Delany pushing Vukona for minutes, something that Henare welcomes.

"We are not really focused on starting spots but Mika will have a significant role in the team, he knows how to manage himself and his responsibilities and role in a group, I am just looking forward to him hitting the floor with a healthy body."

Henare says the imports Edgar Sosa and DJ Newbill have been superb, but the time is now to work on the on-court chemistry.

"The Blitz will be all about finding out who we are as a team and how we want to play. That is especially so for Edgar and DJ as they fit into the environment and get to understand everyone and how they like to play - and that applies in reverse too as we all figure each other out. But both have been fantastic, they are great people first and foremost and have been superb since they arrived."

Henare has a fit roster to choose from and will take 12 players to the Blitz, with development guard Derone Raukawa joining the 11 roster players.

"I am pleased with how well we have progressed as a group and look forward to more of that during this tournament. For us the Blitz is a chance to develop those off-court relationships - on a tour like this you are with a roommate that you might not know that well so it helps forge those relationships. On the floor, we have to work on what we have done in the first week and a half, and try and grow from that in terms of our systems."

The SKYCITY Breakers return from Australia on Monday for a further three games at home before the opening day of the season on October 8 against Cairns at Spark Arena. They will play Melbourne in Napier (September 17) and New Plymouth (September 19), and then host Brisbane in Tauranga on September 27.

NBL Blitz

Traralgon Basketball Centre

-Breakers game times NZT

- Melbourne United v Illawarra Hawks, September 7, 5.30pm

- Cairns Taipans v New Zealand, September 7, 10pm

- Perth Wildcats v Adelaide 36ers, September 8, 5.30pm

- Sydney Kings v Brisbane Bullets, September 8, 8pm

- Cairns Taipans v Illawarra Hawks, September 9, 11.30am

- Brisbane Bullets v Adelaide 36ers, September 9 2pm

- Melbourne United v Sydney Kings, September 9, 5pm

- Perth Wildcats v New Zealand Breakers, September 9, 9.30pm

There will also be four games in Melbourne on Sunday, September 10.

- Melbourne United v Perth Wildcats, State Basketball Centre

- Sydney Kings v Illawarra Hawks, Kilsyth

- Cairns Taipans v Brisbane Bullets, Werribee

- New Zealand Breakers v Adelaide 36ers, Whittlesea, 4pm

To follow the Blitz, visit www.nbl.com.au

For more on the NZ pre-season games in Napier, New Plymouth and Tauranga, CLICK HERE
- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Basketball New Zealand