Basketball: Corey Webster suspended after alleged assault

By Kris Shannon

Corey Webster will almost certainly be back in a Breakers singlet on Sunday before trading it for a suit on Monday as he prepares to defend an assault charge.

The mercurial basketball player was today suspended for one game by the Breakers for breaching club values, but they are fully supporting their man after Webster told them he did nothing wrong.

Having celebrated his 28th birthday on Tuesday, Webster was arrested and charged with assault after police were called to a fight at a Takapuna bar early Wednesday morning.

And while the Breakers are deferring to the legal process, with Webster due to appear at North Shore District Court on Monday, an internal investigation left the club content to welcome him back to the basketball court on Sunday in Melbourne.

"Corey is basically saying he had no involvement," said Breakers general manager Dillon Boucher.

"He's advised us that he hasn't assaulted anybody so, right now, we support him 100 per cent, and he'll defend this vigorously in court."

Webster will miss tomorrow night's encounter with Illawarra at the North Shore Events Centre, a blow to a Breakers team seeking revenge after a 31-point hiding against the Hawks a fortnight ago. But Boucher stressed that suspension had nothing to do with the alleged assault; it was instead a product of Webster's indiscretion during a game week and communication after the incident occurred.

The Breakers were unhappy with Webster being out late the night before practice, with police called to The Takapuna Bar at 12.30am, and they were especially perturbed by what happened the following morning.

"We found out there was a problem - we didn't find out the extent of the problem - from Corey," Boucher said. "Corey didn't attend training on Wednesday morning and we knew there was an issue, but the details of what we were told probably weren't as clear as we would have liked.

"He just said there were personal reasons why he wasn't there - he didn't delve too much into it and we didn't dig too much deeper. We subsequently found out later on what had happened and were disappointed not to have known all the facts."

Disappointment was the general sentiment at Breakers headquarters today as Boucher, coach Paul Henare and captains Mika Vukona and Tom Abercrombie fronted media on a matter none of them would have wanted to discuss the day before an important game.

Webster had earlier addressed the team and apologised for his actions and Vukona, for one, felt there would be no issue integrating the shooting guard back into the squad on Sunday.

"I think you'll see a different Corey come out," Vukona said. "Maybe it's lit a fire under his arse a little bit, just to straighten everything out. I think he'll definitely be more focused."

Webster has before found unwanted off-court reasons to refocus on the game. In 2011 he was cut by the Breakers after receiving a 12-month suspension for a second drug offence, but Boucher insisted that troubled past played no role in the club's current thinking.

"There's no hiding Corey's past but we feel like Corey's grown a lot," Boucher said. "Corey's a fantastic player on the team but he's also an integral part of our family, and taking the past into account probably wasn't fair."

And while the Breakers may yet have another decision to make, pending the outcome of Webster's court case, Boucher was adopting a wait-and-see approach in regard to any further discipline.

"We're not willing to make any big statements now," he said. "We're focused on his breach of his values and what we stand for, and that's what we'll continue to stand by until the court has made its decision."

- NZ Herald

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