Basketball: Breakers reach uncertain point

By Kris Shannon

Corey Webster is again likely to take over starting duties. Photo / photosport.nz
Corey Webster is again likely to take over starting duties. Photo / photosport.nz

Far from the certainty Cedric Jackson provided in recent seasons, the Breakers' point-guard position is in flux heading into today's clash with Cairns.

With original starter Ben Woodside sidelined for two months through injury, coach Paul Henare has a trio of options available across the Tasman this afternoon, none without fault.

Corey Webster will almost certainly once more handle starting duties, as he has since Woodside went down, but the Tall Black built his career as a shooting guard who deputises at the point.

David Stockton, recruited from America to replace Woodside, has shown encouraging signs in his two games for the club, but he is still learning both the offence and his teammates' strengths.

And Shea Ili, missing with a back injury since pre-season, is finally ready to begin his professional career, but he remains some way short of match fitness.

That troika creates a puzzle for Henare to solve - compounded by temporary replacement Izzy Tueta returning to Australia - but it's one that will only become easier with time.

"We had to make an adjustment when we were dealing with Woody's injury and now with Stockton coming in," Henare said. "It's still very early for him, in terms of being able to really lead our group. So we'll make that one a game-day decision on whether we start with a so-called true point guard, but Corey's been doing a good job."

Webster is an effective ball-handler and, although the pair has its defensive faults, injecting him into the starting five alongside Kirk Penney provides a powerful offensive punch. And it was perhaps that tempting option that saw Henare opt against committing to Stockton as the long-term starter.

"Not really," the coach said when asked whether the American was being primed to take over running the offence. "We're just rolling along and making sure the whole transition of him being part of the team is moving smoothly."

While Stockton missed Cairns' (4-6) victory over the Breakers (6-5) in Auckland earlier in the month, that transition appeared effortless in his debut against Illawarra. But then came a smashing against the same opponents, a result Henare knew would leave his team primed for today's tussle.

"The guys are hurting after that one," he said. "They recognise that they were below par. But I think they'll respond well. Whenever these guys get their butt kicked, they're always pretty keen on responding the right way."

- NZ Herald

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