Hungry Jack's NBL
New Zealand Breakers v Cairns Taipans Game Preview
New Zealand Breakers v Cairns Taipans When: 5.30pm (AEDT), Friday 11 November Where: Vector Arena, Auckland Broadcast: NBL TV; Fox Sports; Sky Sports NZ Happy reunion The reunion of Aaron Fearne and Nate Jawai in Cairns has long been anticipated by fans of old-school, big-man basketball. Fearne’s knowledge of Jawai’s strengths and weaknesses, and his close bond with the man he has mentored since he was a teenager, were seen as key ingredients to bringing the best out of the former NBA and Euroleague big man. Last round, the vision many had of Jawai as the centrepiece of the Taipans’ offence started to become a reality, especially Monday as he burned the Kings for 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting. But it wasn’t just a case of throwing the ball to the low post and watching Jawai go to work, Cairns moved the ball with precision to isolate their centre deep in the paint, where his size made him almost impossible to stop.
.@Alex_Pledger picking up where he left off on Friday night, hitting the two hand jam for safety early on in this one #yourgame pic.twitter.com/Oz7LkxuEKi — NBL (@NBL) November 6, 2016Last fully fit in 2012/13 when he was the defensive lynchpin of New Zealand’s third-straight title, Pledger has bravely limped his way through the past three seasons. But after a long off-season of rehab he is starting to resemble the interior force the Breakers know he can be. “I don’t want to talk about previous injuries from the past couple of years too much, but I’ve worked pretty hard to get back to pretty good form and I think I’d been solid but unspectacular through the first five games of the year,” Pledger said. “I think my form in practice the last couple of weeks had been quite good and I knew one of those breakout games was just around the corner.” Defensive anchor Pledger had two breakout games last weekend to lead the Breakers past Melbourne and Brisbane and into third spot on the ladder. The 215cm giant had 20 points on 9-of-10 shooting and 10 rebounds to dominate United, and then backed it up with 12 points, 12 boards and three blocked shots as he led a shutdown of the Bullets’ offence. “In the second half there was a period there where he just seemed to own the boards, in traffic too, it wasn’t as though he was picking off cheap rebounds,” coach Paul Henare said. “He’s made some tremendous progress this week, we talk to the big fella a lot about just staying positive with himself, backing himself. “If he can just be that anchor for us defensively, three blocked shots and without seeing the tape how many more he would have changed, and I’m sure he contributed a lot towards Brisbane shooting 29 per cent in the paint.” There is no time for Pledger and friends to rest on their laurels, however, as the Taipans are also starting to roll. After dropping their first three games they defeated Melbourne, Illawarra and Sydney in impressive fashion before coming within a whisker of knocking off the Kings on the road. Doing it with D Jawai, Cam Gliddon, Mark Worthington and Fuquan Edwin are playing outstanding basketball, while Jarrad Weeks, Mitch McCarron, Damon Heuir and Nnanna Egwu continue to play their roles to cover for the injured Travis Trice and Alex Loughton.
.@ajmitchell25 drops the ? on the break to close out the third term for the @NZBreakers. The dunk champ doesn't disappoint #yourgame pic.twitter.com/V9GL1ZM0iF — NBL (@NBL) November 4, 2016