The SKYCITY Breakers wont get sidetracked by the celebrations for Mika Vukonas 300th game for the club and instead will focus on the best possible endorsement for their talismanic power forward - that is to get a win over the Sydney Kings on Thursday night.
While there has been much attention on the feats of Vukona and his remarkable (pending) achievement of 300 games in a Breakers singlet, the club has too much experience in and around the team to let that become a distraction, with Head Coach Paul Henare ensuring that the team is focused on one thing only come tip-off at the North Shore Events Centre Thursday night.
"The best way for us to acknowledge Mika is to get the win, that is certainly his focus and it is also ours. We enjoy and celebrate success at this club and treat each milestone as part of who we are, but the focus within the group is to get another win and protect our home court on Thursday night."
With the club sitting at one win and one loss early in the season in what is a congested ladder, a win over the two and one Sydney Kings will see them keep pace with the top of the table in what many people are saying could be the most competitive race to the playoffs in years.
"The Kings are a quality roster and I have no doubt will be right in the mix at the end of the regular season - in fact at the moment every team has a case to say they can win this thing, there is so much talent across the league and already you have seen that everyone is capable of beating anyone on their day. We have to make sure that Thursday night is our night and that we protect our home court - that is going to be vital in what looms as one of the closest seasons in recent memory."
Henare was relatively guarded when talking about the Kings but he and assistant coaches Judd Flavell and Mike Fitchett have no doubt left no stone unturned in the scout on the Kings, with plenty of weapons to look out for.
"They are a high scoring team they get after it and have some great talent, especially on the perimeter with Lisch, Cadee and Newley and Whittington is playing well too so expect them to want to put a lot of points on the board, our job is to make it tough for them and at the other end take advantage of some match ups as well.
"Their talent seems to be fitting into Gazes system pretty well. From what I can see he is going with what he knows and had a lot of success and experience with during his time with his dad at the Tigers. We are seeing some of that but I am sure he will evolve as a coach the more time he has with it, but he is doing a good job so far."
That talent includes the addition of former NBA Championship winner Josh Powell, the veteran power forward won two rings with the LA Lakers (2008-10) and finds himself in his 8th country in not many more years as he travels the world playing ball. Powell adds yet another layer to an already fascinating night in prospect at the NSEC on Thursday.
Henare meanwhile paid tribute to Vukona, knowing however that the player himself might rather not have the fuss surrounding him and the game on Thursday.
"Mika is front and centre of everything we do as a club and as a team. I am sure the tributes and recognition that will come from this are well deserved, he is a true warrior and has been a stand up member of our community and club for a long time.
"I dont think he will put too much time into the celebrations of his own personal milestone though, he will do what he does every day and go out and do what he can do to help the team get a win."
And without question the best way the fans can help influence that, is to fill the NSEC on Thursday and make 300 games worth of noise for Vukona and his team mates.
Next Home Game
SKYCITY Breakers v Sydney Kings
Thursday 20 October
North Shore Events Centre
7:30 tip off
6:00pm doors open
- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Basketball New Zealand