Dealing with Childress may light fire in his offensive game

Reuben Te Rangi is a confidence player and little could do more to kick-start his season than passing the test he faces tonight.

Stepping into the starting five to play Sydney in place of an injured Tom Abercrombie, Te Rangi will be tasked with the unenviable prospect of battling NBA veteran Josh Childress.

While it will hardly be a one-on-one duel - Breakers coach Dean Vickerman thinks no one player can guard the American - Te Rangi will see significant time on the small forward at both ends of the floor.

On paper, it's a mismatch. One man has played 391 games in the NBA and leads the Australian NBL in a number of offensive categories; the other is a 19-year-old starting his third game at this level.

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And Childress could very well torch Te Rangi and the Breakers to the tune of the near triple-double he racked up against Cairns last week. But an alternative outcome could be the catalyst for Te Rangi to bust out of his offensive slump and give his all-round impact the final product it deserves.

Te Rangi currently averages just 2.2 points on the season and, while he can largely leave his teammates to assume the scoring load, that number is down on his career mark in limited minutes coming off the bench. Vickerman felt a couple of successes would see the floodgates open and Te Rangi agreed, hoping that downpour could come tonight.

"I'm all about the confidence," Te Rangi said. "When I come in the game, I'm usually confident that I'm going to make my shots.

"But this year the boys have been talking to me about that. I've turned a few down, so it's just to take those open shots.

"When one goes down the next one's going to feel just as good, so I'll put those up and that time will come when they start to go down."

Te Rangi has given enough in the other areas of his game to justify the billing the teenager has already received. Whether it's on defence, running off screens or making good cuts to the basket, he's been a pivotal piece in the table-topping Breakers' 8-3 start to the season.

"It's just about being confident - going out there, playing assertive and getting rebounds," he said. "Doing the things that help the team. We've got a lot of scorers so I take a back seat on that one, but just helping out on defence, getting stops and bringing that energy."

It would be understandable if Te Rangi's energy levels and confidence had been knocked by the events of the offseason. A bar-room brawl while with the Southland Sharks saw him convicted of assault and sentenced to community service but now, with that dark cloud cleared, he hopes a brighter impact on the court is around the corner.

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"I got a big backing from the club and my family. Having these boys around me, they help me every day just to regain that confidence and believe in my shot."

Vickerman hoped Te Rangi, along with Duane Bailey, could find that shot tonight, with the goal to get Childress out of the paint and stop his influence as a shot-blocker and rebounding presence.

"Their ability to run him around and get him outside the paint and have both of those guys respected from the three-point line would really help us."

And at the other end?

"I don't think anyone can guard him one-on-one right now," said Vickerman. "He's got to see a wall of people every time he catches it."

Josh Childress in 2014-15 season
Average points: 21.9 (2nd in league)
Average rebounds: 10.7 (1st in league)
Average assists: 4.1 (5th in league)
Total blocks: 2.7 (1st in league)