If NZ Breakers skipper Mika Vukona has taught Finn Delany anything, it's that half-heartedness won't get you anywhere.
The 21-year-old produced a stand-out display in his mentor's stead last night, notching 13 points and nine rebounds, as his side beat Melbourne United 88-70.
The win gives last year's runners-up a sniff of a finals place. Results to come this weekend will either tip them in or out of the top four.
Delany, in just his first year as a fully-contracted Breaker, played a major role in the victory, draining key shots in the third quarter, before a treble of dunks in the fourth.
The 21-year-old's speed around the court also made life difficult for the United rearguard, which clearly wilted as the fourth quarter dragged on.
The Nelson native said his performance was especially important, given Vukona's absence and hospitalisation with a knee infection.
"I think the season's taught me and the team to just be ready for anything, and when that adversity comes, just take it in your stride," Delany said. "We've faced a lot this year, so just be ready and keep working hard, no matter what."
The performance caps off a solid debut senior campaign for Delany, playing 24 matches and learning from the likes of Vukona and fellow forward Tom Abercrombie.
Assuming a bench role for much of the campaign, he has scored nearly three points per game on average and two rebounds.
Head coach Paul Henare said Delany, as well point guard Shea Ili, had produced the goods on potentially the highest stage of their nascent careers.
"One thing I've learned with Finn, you've just got to let him out there and say 'go for it, buddy'," Henare said. "Unbelievable, the energy he plays with, he must be a nightmare to play against."