Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

Basketball: Breakers must rein in Taipans' big man

Coach Lemanis wants a more polished performance with greater early intensity.

Will Hudson will try to build on his great form against Adelaide. Photo / Getty Images
Will Hudson will try to build on his great form against Adelaide. Photo / Getty Images

Following their Houdini act in Adelaide, the New Zealand Breakers move on to Cairns, looking to tame the Taipans tonight and keep up the pace at the top of the Australian NBL ladder.

The Breakers have never won a game on New Year's Eve, a quirky hoodoo given their dominance of the competition in recent seasons.

They'll be buoyed by their comeback against the Adelaide 36ers on Friday, where they overturned a 21-point half-time deficit to win 71-66.

Back-up centre Will Hudson was one of the key performers, with 23 points, 11 rebounds and a block.

Ever the team man, the American said his performance was only possible because of the depth within the squad.

"You've just got to stay ready and exploit what the other team gives you ...

The good thing about this team is we've got a deep bench and anybody can go off on any night and that's what happened the other night."

Hudson will have a busy night in Cairns keeping Taipans big man Cam Tragardh under control near the hoop.

"He's a great player," Hudson said. "They've got some other great players on the team, so we've got to stick to our scouts and focus on playing New Zealand basketball, and the rest should take care of itself."

Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis said he wanted to see his side put in a more polished performance than they did in Adelaide after a slow start.

"For us it's about playing well, and some improvements we can make on the road right now is coming out and playing the first five to six minutes at an intensity and a tempo that is Breakers basketball," Lemanis said.

"So that's the first challenge for us right now, is to get that right and we'll see what happens from there."

The Taipans sit in sixth place on the ANBL ladder but they're always a tough prospect at home and Lemanis said the Breakers had to keep the Taipans' three-point shooting in check.

"It's a case of just trying to get them out of the rhythm and disrupting them, and obviously we can't give up defensive transition baskets against them and just contest shots and keep them to one shot.

"The last two times we've played them they've smashed us on the offensive boards."

The onus will be on Hudson, Mika Vukona and starting centre Alex Pledger to get active on the boards and try to pick up the scraps and deny the Taipans access to the boards.

After Cairns, the league-leading Breakers' next game is in Wollongong, against the Hawks on January 5. Already the eight-team league has split into a distinct top four-bottom four competition, with Adelaide (5th) on the outside looking in.


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