Basketball: Breakers to face Bullets in pre-season games

Mika Vukona during the NBL Grand Final. Photo / Getty Images
Mika Vukona during the NBL Grand Final. Photo / Getty Images

The Breakers are once again taking their pre-season on the road, confirming today that the club will host the star-studded Brisbane Bullets in a three-city tour of New Zealand in September.

Last season's beaten grand finalists welcome a host of familiar faces in a tour that visits Tauranga (September 13), Napier (September 15) and Invercargill (September 17).

The Bullets have assembled a championship contending roster under the coaching of former Breakers mentor Andrej Lemanis, as he returns to club coaching post his Australian national team commitments at the Rio Olympic Games.

Breakers General Manager Dillon Boucher says the series will give fans plenty to enjoy, as well as meet the needs of both teams in the lead up to what promises to be one of the best seasons yet.

"We are delighted to be taking our show on the road and to be visiting Tauranga, Napier and Invercargill. All three regions have shown a real commitment to showcase the game of basketball and I know will put on great shows for the fans in those cities.

"Brisbane might be newly returned to the competition, but they are already being talked about as being among the favourites with the roster they have assembled. With Andrej in the driving seat you know they are going to be a well prepared, well drilled and professional team in all respects.

"And of course we are delighted with our own roster, we have been able to attract a great group of players and with two more still to sign to the fulltime roster including an import player, we are anticipating an exciting season under new coach Paul Henare."

As well as Lemanis, the Bullets will feature former Breakers player Reuben Te Rangi and include club legend CJ Bruton (one of only three players to have their numbers retired at the club) and Life Member Richard Clarke (former CEO) amongst their number on the support staff.

The Bullets roster is loaded, with former or current Boomer players in Adam Gibson, Mitch Young, Tom Jervis, Cameron Bairstow and Daniel Kickert, plus exciting American Torrey Craig and a yet to be signed second American import.

And for the Breakers it will be a chance before the NBL Pre-Season Blitz in Brisbane a week later to play the entire roster for the first time, with new American import Ben Woodside, returning club favourite and New Zealand basketball legend Kirk Penney and 6'11" Tall Black Rob Loe amongst the club's new signings.

The Breakers will have signed their second American import and final New Zealand players in time for the tour and will showcase their entire roster (injury permitting) in the three games, with club favourites Mika Vukona, Tom Abercrombie, Corey Webster and Alex Pledger all raring to go in another NBL season.

Each of the venues is delighted to be bringing world class basketball to their regions.

"The Tauranga City Basketball Association is very excited to be bring the Breakers back to Tauranga," said Mark Rogers, General Manager of TCBA.

"This will be a great opportunity for our passionate basketball community to see the best players in Australasia live. I'm sure the community is in for a great night's entertainment and basketball."

"We are rapt to secure the SKYCITY Breakers to Hawkes Bay," said Dan Rodden, General Manager of Pettigrew Green Arena. "To be able to do this for the community of Hawkes Bay is a great achievement. With the community engagement programme including a game it will mean everyone in the community can get to experience the Breakers while in Hawkes Bay."

"We are very excited to have the SKYCITY Breakers returning to Invercargill this year," says Laura Morrison, Business Development Manager of ILT Stadium Southland.
"The Southland public have shown us how passionate they are to see top quality basketball here at home and we want to give them that. The Brisbane Bullets are an excellent opponent with the Australia, New Zealand rivalry strong and being the only South Island venue, we are expecting tickets to sell quickly. The crowd was amazing last year and we are hopeful for the same."

- NZ Herald

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