Basketball: Kirk Penney repeats history to help Breakers beat Bullets

By Kris Shannon

Breakers 86 Bullets 70
The ageless Kirk Penney enjoyed another big game against Brisbane. Photo / Nick Reed
The ageless Kirk Penney enjoyed another big game against Brisbane. Photo / Nick Reed

Much has changed since the Brisbane Bullets last played in Auckland, almost nine years ago to the day.

But one truth has remained constant and shows no signs of deviation - Kirk Penney knows how to knock down the three-ball.

Having shot four triples and scored 20 points in that victory over the Bullets back in 2007, Penney was this afternoon a familiar menace to the returned club at Vector Arena, draining six threes in a season-high haul of 30 to help the Breakers claim a third straight win.

"He's been around a long time and he knows how to play," coach Paul Henare said. "He's been a real good leader for the team ever since he got back. He's come back with a relaxed mindset but, on the court, he's aggressive."

That aggressiveness has been especially clear over the previous week. After both player and team started the season slowly, Penney last weekend grabbed 27 to spark the winning streak before continuing the renaissance to lift the Breakers (4-3) clear in third place.

The Kiwi club never trailed by more than a point today and, in a miserly fourth quarter, rode their dominant defence to a victory that rounded out a brilliant weekend.

It was a weekend steeped in adversity, completing a clean sweep of a transtasman double-header despite losing point guard Ben Woodside to a potentially serious injury during Friday's victory in Melbourne. And it showed just how hard these Breakers will be to stop when Penney's feeling in form.

The veteran shot six-of-12 from beyond the arc to draw plenty of attention from the opposition defence but former Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis could do nothing to contain his one-time charge.

"Kirk is someone who liked to rise to the occasion," Lemanis said. "I had the pleasure of being the recipient coach of that on quite a few occasions. Now I'm on the flipside of it - it doesn't feel quite as good."

Penney's performance ensured Henare was in the opposite mood but, equally pleasing for the coach, the shooting guard's threat was far from isolated. Alex Pledger continued on from his big night in Melbourne, grabbing a second straight double-double (12 points, 12 rebounds) to provide the Breakers a formidable inside force to match their long-range flair.

Tom Abercrombie made a couple of big shots to add 13 and, with Woodside watching from the bench with crutches at his side, back-up point guard Izzy Tueta coped admirably with the increased minutes to accrue a career-high 13.

"We feel like we can attack in multiple ways," Henare said of receiving key contributions throughout his roster. "It's a sign of a good team."

Breakers 86 (Penney 30, Abercrombie 13, Tueta 13)
Bullets 70 (Beal 16, Young 14, Gibson 8)
Halftime: 49-40

- NZ Herald

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