The SKYCITY Breakers new season was officially launched in Auckland today, with the team introduced and new uniforms unveiled at an event at SKYCITY Auckland, four weeks to the day before the opening game at Vector Arena against Melbourne United.
There is always excitement around the start of a Breakers season, with a fair dose of expectation around New Zealands most successful Trans-Tasman sporting franchise by some margin. With four championships and five Grand Final appearances in six years, the club did not shy away from those same high standards when contemplating the new campaign, despite there being a great deal of change in personnel on and off court during the off season.
New club General Manager Dillon Boucher spoke to sponsors, media and VIP guests about the excitement around the club this off-season, one that has seen considerable change at the club.
"We have an exciting season ahead - new coaches, new players, new uniform and new off-court team members as well.
"The SKYCITY Breakers are a development club, with a strong focus on developing the people within the organisation to benefit us but also them personally, something we are very proud of in light of our on and off court success.
"That is highlighted in the team with all three of last seasons development players being elevated into a full time roster positions this season and of course with foundation player Pauli (Henare) earning his promotion to Head Coach for this season and my own elevation from Commercial Manager to General Manager.
"There has been some change in the team too which I think is great, and this mixed with the knowledge and expertise of those that have been in their positions for a while is a great combination with a wonderful energy about the club as we anticipate the new season."
First time SKYCITY Breakers Head Coach Paul Henare spoke about the type of team he wants to be in charge of this season and expressed his excitement for the campaign to get underway.
"Im really happy with the roster weve been able to put together. My number one priority when building the team was to make sure we surround ourselves with good people and Im confident weve been able to do that. The guys returning have a good level of understanding about my expectations and the character of the guys coming in will allow the gelling process to be reasonably seamless.
"I think we have really good coverage and versatility at every position which will allow us to play the way we want to play. At this early stage there are eight teams that aim to win the championship - which we obviously want to do. What we want to achieve over the next few weeks is finding out who we are as a team which will put us in a position to contend for a championship.
"I am sure the season will be a lot of fun for the fans too, we love that home support and always rely heavily on our 6th man being the crowd and doing a great job in behind the team, we look forward to seeing that great Breaker Nation support again this season."
The redesigned playing uniform was on display for the first time following a blessing earlier in the week that was conducted by Breakers fan and representative of Awataha Marae Anthony Wilson and his family.
The design continues on from earlier versions with subtle changes to further reflect on the genealogy at the club, the community values that underpin the club and the heart with which they will play. Mondays pre-dawn ceremony was one of prayer, karakia and the infusing of positive energy into the uniform for all who will wear it this season.
"I want to thank and acknowledge the Breakers family for the welcome they have given us and the embracing of our Maori culture into the club, the team and what they are trying to achieve," said Wilson. "What we are able to present today is a subtle change to the design from two years ago, a design that reflects the agility, speed and determination of the players but also carries with it all those who have worn it before them, giving the team strength and mana each time they take the court, this is more than a design or a collection of colours, this has real meaning and for me as a former baller who loves the game, it has been an honour to be involved in the process."
The Breakers season will again see games hosted at both the North Shore Events Centre (6) and Vector Arena (8), with season passes available to fans for either one or both of those venues.
Game one will be a mouth-watering one for a number of reasons, with last seasons Minor Premiers Melbourne United visiting Vector Arena on October 7. United has not held back on spending in the off-season and will assume top line favouritism to repeat their efforts of last season. Included amongst those buys are former Breakers Tai Wesley and Cedric Jackson, both know what it is to experience home court advantage at Vector Arena but will this time suit up in the away dressing room.
SKYCITY Breakers 2016/17 Roster
Ben Woodside, USA, Point Guard, 1.80m (5ft 11in) 84kg
Shea Ili, Point Guard, NZL, 1.82m (6ft) 85kg
Corey Webster, Guard, NZL, 1.87m (6ft 2in) 86kg
Kirk Penney, Guard, NZL, 1.95m (6ft 5in) 99kg
Tom Abercrombie, NZL, Swingman, 1.98m (6ft 6in) 94 kg
Jordan Ngatai, NZL, Swingman, 1.95m (6ft 5in) 105kg
Mika Vukona, NZL, Forward, 1.98m (6ft 6in) 105kg
Finn Delany, NZL, Forward, 2.0m (6ft 7in) 102 kg
Rob Loe, NZL, Forward, 2.10m (6ft 11in) 111kg
Akil Mitchell USA, Forward, 2.06m (6ft 9in)
Alex Pledger, NZL, Centre, 2.13 m (7ft) 111kg04kg
Ethan Rusbatch, Canterbury Rams (NBL), Guard, NZL, 196cm, 23 years;
Derone Raukawa, Southland Sharks (NBL), Guard, NZL, 181cm, 21 years;
Samuel Waardenburg, North Harbour Basketball/Rangitoto College, Forward, NZL, 208cm, 17 years;
Paul Henare, NZL, Head Coach
Judd Flavell, NZL, Assistant Coach
Michael Fitchett, NZL, Assistant Coach
- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Basketball New Zealand