NZ Breakers to play pre-season game in Tauranga

By Peter White

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Mika Vukona of the Breakers competes against Josh Childress of the Kings. Photo/file
Mika Vukona of the Breakers competes against Josh Childress of the Kings. Photo/file

NZ Breakers will take on the Brisbane Bullets at ASB Arena on September 13 in a major boost to a sport already surging ahead in popularity.

Basketball City Tauranga general manager Mark Rogers says the basketball community is excited about having the Breakers playing here.

"Obviously they are the biggest brand in basketball in New Zealand," he said.

"Steven Adams has a very high profile but he is playing in America so you don't get to see him like you do with the Breakers on TV and in the flesh.

"So it is very exciting to have the best players in New Zealand coming to Tauranga to hopefully put on a great display of basketball for the community.

"As a local association it is very important to have these type of high profile, high level games like the Breakers and test matches we see as being very helpful to growing the sport.

"With the Breakers there is a pathway for basketball players within New Zealand and that has a lot of appeal for the male players. It is an aspirational part for people being involved in the sport.

"It is also a great spectacle for the community to come out and watch.

NZ Breakers CEO Dillon Boucher says one of their main focuses in the pre-season is to try and get round the regions.

"For us we see ourselves as the New Zealand-wide Breakers and we have a lot of fans and following outside Auckland," Boucher said.

"Every year we go somewhere different to be able to access the whole of New Zealand.

"It is awesome to hear that basketball is booming in the Bay of Plenty and if it helps for us to go there and boost numbers then that is something we will definitely look to do."

The Breakers Brisbane Bullets will have former Breakers star CJ Bruton and coach Andre Lemanis as part of their squad for the match.

"The reason we chose the Brisbane Bullets is obviously we know them well and they will have familiar faces on their team," Boucher said.

"Mika Vukona (former Bethlehem College student) is a product of the area so it is a great opportunity for a guy like that to come back where his grass roots started."

Rogers is confident that there will be a chance for young basketballers to rub shoulders with the players.

"Part of our discussions with the Breakers at the moment is that they will commit to doing some community activities while they are here," he said.

"We are bursting at the seams. We can't cater for the demand in our local competitions.
"The rep programme is going through the roof, the holiday camp (last week) had 106 kids at it and the numbers locally are going really well.

"We are grateful to the support we have had from Tauranga City Council, TECT and Bay Venues who have all partnered with us to bring the game to Tauranga."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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