A mounting body count has rookie NZ Breakers head coach Paul Henare surveying his options, as they prepare for a tough road trip to Cairns this week.

The four-time Australian NBL champions teeter at eight wins-10 losses, lying seventh on a table where only 3.5 games separate first from last.

The Breakers finished their 80-85 loss to Sydney Kings on Friday night with no recognised guards on court, after American David Stockton limped to the side-lines early, and veteran sharpshooter Kirk Penney and back-up point guard Shea Ili both fouled out in the dying moments.

Already missing American guard Ben Woodside, and Tall Blacks Corey Webster and Tom Abercrombie through injury, Henare is putting on a brave face in the build-up to a must-win outing against the Taipans.


"We don't dwell on injuries or unavailability," he inists. "That has never been our way and it won't change under my watch.

"We focus on the players we have available for any given game, and leave the others to their rehab and work with our medical team.

"Already this season we have seen players step up and take opportunities that might not otherwise have come their way. Despite a delayed start to his season, Shea Ili is getting the chance to lead this team and I thought did superbly against Sydney."

Another to raise his game has been young forward Finn Delany, promoted to the starting five to replace Abercrombie, who is missing with a broken wrist.

"Finn Delany probably came in this season with more of a watch-and-learn brief, but he has been given a chance to not only play big minutes, but to do so as a starter and we have complete faith in his ability to do a great job for this team," says Henare.

"We have seen that already and, on Friday night, saw a growing maturity in a very good young player who is only going to get better with further opportunities."

Henare is confident he dstill has the players to not only compete, but to win in Cairns and maintain their challenge for another shot at a post-season.

"This week is another big challenge, but one that we, as coaches and I know the playing group, are ready for and keen to take on.

"Cairns are a strong team and not out of the play-off picture. As with any team, a couple of wins pushes you up the ladder, while a couple of losses for anyone has the opposite effect.

"You simply must be ready every game."

Another to emerge from the Sydney game with credit was new American forward Paul Carter, making his Breakers debut.

"We will have another few days of practice with Paul, as he comes to terms with us and what we are trying to achieve, but I thought he brought plenty to the Sydney game," says Henare.

"Regardless of who suits up on Friday and then at home on Sunday, they know they are here because they are good enough to compete with anyone in this league and will take to the court with one thing in mind - that is winning."

Stockton exited the Sydney game, after aggravating a back injury. No decision has been made as to Stockton's availability this week, as he undergoes further tests and treatment in an effort to prove his fitness.

Abercrombie continues to progress in his recovery, but is at least 2-4 weeks away from a return. Woodside is rehabilitating a ruptured plantar fascia in his foot, and is now out of his moon boot and walking without pain.

Webster remains on injury waiver, struggling with several injuries, including a troublesome hip complaint that has restricted his movement this season.