Breakers need to step up against high flying Hawks

By National Basketball League

The SKYCITY Breakers owe them one at the North Shore Events Centre on Friday night, the Illawarra Hawks that is.

With the series between the two teams level at one game apiece but weighing heavily in favour of the Hawks on points differential after a 31 point win in Wollongong just over a week ago, the Breakers are looking for a statement game to maintain their drive for the post-season on a hugely congested NBL ladder.

SKYCITY Breakers co-captain Mika Vukona did not mince his words when he spoke about the challenge facing his team and their motivation to get the job done at home.

"They gave it to us over there, but we have done our preparation this week, we understand what we need to do and the guys are confident going into Friday night. We have to use that (the loss) as motivation, anytime you get whipped by 30 points or more, it has to hurt you as a competitor.

"That dressing room after that game was about as quiet or maybe even depressed as I have ever been in. You dont go over and get whipped like that and not be hurt. The guys have gone about their work quietly, with a real edge to the atmosphere right now, hopefully we can transfer that to a positive performance tomorrow."

Vukona was again brutally honest when asked this week what hurt most, the poor defence or high turnovers in recent games?

"Both are just as bad, combine them both together and that is what happens, you get behind real quick and in this league you cant afford that. But everyone is in the same boat as us, everyone is winning, everyone is losing. There is only one game separating first and eighth so that is the good news, we are in the mix. I think it is the first team to sort their stuff out first that can think about the play-offs."

SKYCITY Breakers Head Coach Paul Henare says the Hawks are one of the leagues hottest teams right now, not just for the win over his team, but for the hoodoo breaking performance to win in Perth for the first time in over ten years.

"They were struggling and on the back foot straight away, we were watching that game when we were in Cairns on Sunday night and we were impressed with the way they kept calm and held their composure in a place like Perth where they have not had much success. For them to get through that proves they are in a pretty good place right now in terms of how they are playing and the belief they have in themselves."

With Corey Webster suspended for the game on Friday night, fans can expect to see someone new running the point, with both David Stockton and Shea Ili available. The team is otherwise fit and ready to go, with Rob Loe also over his toe injury and coming in on the back of a full weeks preparation.

The game is also notable for Kirk Penney playing his 150th game in the NBL, including his first stint with the Breakers and his season last year with the Illawarra Hawks, ironically the opponent on this occasion on Friday night.

SKYCITY Breakers v Illawarra Hawks

North Shore Events Centre

Friday 2nd December

7:30pm tip off

Doors Open at 6pm

Tickets at www.nzbreakers.co.nz

- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Basketball New Zealand

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