Basketball: Paul Henare and Andrej Lemanis go from friends to frenemys

Former Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis and current coach Paul Henare now have to put friendships aside when they meet each other on the court. Photo / Photosport
Former Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis and current coach Paul Henare now have to put friendships aside when they meet each other on the court. Photo / Photosport

Andrej Lemanis owes a lot to the New Zealand Breakers.

And thanks to a tough test against his former team on Saturday night, the Brisbane Bullets will take confidence into next Sunday's match-up with the Sydney Kings.

The revamped Bullets displayed grit and composure to resist a spirited fightback by a well-established Breakers outfit and prevail 88-82 in Brisbane.

It gave the Bullets their third win, five games into their comeback season following an eight-year hiatus. It left Breakers coach Paul Henare still seeking an elusive win against his friend, rival, mentor and former coach Lemanis.

"It's something that I do enjoy, going up against him," said Henare, who played for the Breakers when Lemanis coached them to their first of three consecutive NBL titles in 2011.

"I haven't quite managed to beat him yet so hopefully next time."

Henare and Lemanis have locked horns while at the helm of the New Zealand and Australian national teams respectively.

Having faced off again in their club roles during the pre-season, both felt any extra feeling was out of their systems by the time their first meeting in the NBL regular season rolled round.

"Coming up and playing against them is always an interesting dynamic because we've been through war together and had each other's backs for so long ... then you get to the point where now, you've got to play against them," Lemanis said.

"A lot of them play for the Tall Blacks and I've been in the Boomers and we've been competing for the last eight years against each other.

"We played them three times in the pre-season so in terms of that emotion, I think I'm certainly over that and I can just focus wholly and solely on the quality of the game.

"But as soon as the game is done, I'm back to having tight bonds with those guys."

Lemanis also shares that bond with Bullets assistant coach CJ Bruton, who he recruited to the Breakers when the Brisbane side of old folded in 2008.

Bruton ended up staying with the New Zealand team until 2014.

"That club is a quality organisation and I was lucky to have a lot of success with that club," Lemanis said of the Breakers.

"The support of that club and what they did for me is the reason I've got this opportunity now."

- news.com.au

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