Basketball: Boucher up for Bay pals' clinics

By Anendra Singh

His reaction to clocking 1300 career rebounds after last weekend's "Sunshine Swing" speaks volumes about his attitude towards statistics in what is effectively a communal existence where individual achievements are merely the byproduct of the collective drive.

"Did I?" asks the veteran New Zealand Breakers small forward Dillon Boucher, from Auckland, when informed of his achievement soon after his team stamped their supremacy on the road trip to north Queensland last week.

The Andrej Lemanis-coached and Mika Vukona-captained Breakers became the first club to make a clean sweep on the road - beating the Townsville Crocodiles 81-72 last Friday and following it up with a 73-54 victory over the Cairns Taipans 24 hours later - since February 2007.

Akin to a basketballer looking one way and instinctively passing another, Boucher makes it abundantly obvious number-crunching isn't his forte and never has been in an illustrious career spanning 90 caps for the Tall Blacks from 2001 to 2006.

So what does the rebounds statistics mean to the 36-year-old who was born two days after Christmas in New Plymouth?

"It means a fair number of people have been missing quite a lot of shots," he replies amid laughter.

"My statistics or any other individual accolades are secondary to the team's requirements," he says before tonight's third match-up against the win-less Crocodiles at the Vector Arena, Auckland.

It is, he reveals, quite strange to play all three games against an opposition so early in the season but, it is what it is.

Perhaps the selfless gesture of Boucher and fellow Breaker CJ Bruton's to rise early tomorrow morning to catch a flight to Napier to help conduct clinics for members of the IMS Payroll Paul Henare and Paora Winitana Basketball Academy sums up what the blokes in over-sized three-quarter shorts are all about.

The pair had no hesitation in pledging their services when former Tall Black Winitana approached them to help with the non-profit academy established in February this year.

The two "fun camps" at the Rodney Green Centennial Events Centre will be run from 8am to midday for junior boys and girls aged 7-12 and then from 1pm to 4pm for seniors aged 13-18.

At the end of the camps, a dozen of the 36 academy members from different age groups will be selected to attend an "Eye Opener and Experience" camp with the Breakers at North Shore.

Winitana said Breakers assistant coach Judd Flavell would conduct training sessions and focus on the growth and development of players.

Boucher - who has played for other ANBL teams such as the Brisbane Bullets and the Perth Wildcats as well as the Auckland Pirates (also Stars) and the Waikato Pistons - puts their trip down here to two reasons:

One, a platform and pathway for the game and a beacon for the younger generation coming through.

Secondly, it's simply a case of reciprocity towards a code that has "been good to us" so, consequently, doing what it takes to help kids to aspire to what professional basketballers have been able to savour on the high-octane courts.

"Paora and Paulie are friends, so when they ask for help that's what friends are there for," he says, revealing at his age waking up early to jet off somewhere can be a challenge after feeling like a train had run over his worn-out body hours after a game.

Boucher, who 2013 Hawks coach Tab Baldwin scouted, also fondly recalls how icons had inspired him in his youth to reach for the stars.

The late Brent Fair, who arrived from the United States as a player before ending up coaching Taranaki and North Harbour in the New Zealand National Basketball League, was such a figure when Boucher attended live-in Church College camps in Hamilton.

"I didn't only improve because of the coaches but by also watching what my peers were doing better than me and trying to match those standards."

In tonight's match, Boucher rules out complacency and emphasises the need to build a game on the coat-tails of defence.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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