The party continues for Breakers

By Nicholas Jones, Michael Brown of APNZ

CJ Bruton, Mika Vukona and Dillon Boucher of the New Zealand Breakers hold up their Championship trophys from the last three years during a homecoming celebration. Photo / Getty Images.
CJ Bruton, Mika Vukona and Dillon Boucher of the New Zealand Breakers hold up their Championship trophys from the last three years during a homecoming celebration. Photo / Getty Images.

The party has continued on home soil for the New Zealand Breakers after their historic three-peat championship win.

Hundreds of fans chanted the team's name and swarmed players at a victory party at Sky City this afternoon.

The team flew in to Auckland Airport early on Sunday morning, after their historic 70-66 victory over Perth Wildcats on Friday night.

The championship was the Breakers' third Australian National Basketball League title in a row.

Speaking to the Herald after signing his way through an ever-replenishing huddle of singlets, basketballs, grand-final tickets and a pink pushcart, coach Andrej Lemanis said the team had created a legacy.

"One of the really pleasing aspects of this success that we've had is seeing the growth in basketball, and the interest in basketball - all our junior development programmes that we've had running out at the Breakers, they're full.

"We need more court space. I know that basketball is booming around the country. And that's a great outcome of what we've achieved.''

CJ Bruton said the championship was particularly pleasing after the early-season loss to the Wild Cats.

"Everyone talks about that like it's the end of the world. As a group we talked about it...our coach cracked the whip, but we also knew what we had, and we waited to see our true colours.

"We won the title, Cedric [Jackson] holds up the medallion MVP, Dillon [Boucher] is retiring and he's got the big trophy, it's a great sendoff.''

Kevin Rameka, who came with his daughter Tiana, 8, who plays basketball herself, said three championships was special.

"Winning that first one was crazy. But three now? Unbelievable. There's younger guys coming through as well.''

Chantelle Eagle, at the celebration with children Derryn, 11, Breanna, 6, and Jayden, 4, said the franchise had major appeal for families like hers.

"It's also the atmosphere that the games bring. It's for family, it's not just focussed on the adults, but the kids as well.''

Earlier yesterday, some of the team had a taste of life in the V8s fast lane when they descended on the V8s Supercars at Pukekohe this afternoon.

Boucher, Tom Abercrombie and assistant coach Dean Vickerman were helicoptered into Pukekohe Park Raceway moments before the start of today's first V8 Supercars race and were greeted by cheers from the big crowd.

They walked down pit lane and checked out some of the V8 Supercars and mingled with drivers as they lined up on the starting grid.

Boucher wouldn't exactly call himself a petrol head but admitted he enjoys driving fast.

"We flew in in a chopper, so I couldn't be happier right now,'' said Boucher, who retired on Friday night. ``The royalty treatment is always good for a couple of days and then it's back to reality.''

Auckland Mayor Len Brown said yesterday that the council would work with the Breakers to consider how best to celebrate the victory.

- NZ Herald

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