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Breakers legend returns home

Today one of New Zealand basketball’s biggest stars will once again step out in front of Breaker fans to try and win a game of basketball. However, he won’t be wearing a Breakers jersey. In what is sure to be a bittersweet moment for many New Zealand basketball fans, Kirk Penney, the Breakers legend who led the club to their inaugural NBL title in 2010/11, will instead run out as a member of the Illawarra Hawks. Yes, Penney will go up against some of his old Championship-winning teammates but as a seasoned pro the sharp shooter is relaxed and poised to enjoy this much anticipated homecoming. “I think it’s going be a lot of fun to play in front of friends and family and playing the game I love,” says Penney. “When you see the Breakers jersey, and all the people that are obviously behind the Breakers jersey, it’s obviously a bit of a weird feeling but at the same time once you step on the court we’re all professionals and even though you’re going against fellow Tall Blacks who are your mates, you want to go out there and compete and try and win.” And if his last performance against the Breakers is anything to go by, Penney will have a big say in the result. When the two sides met back in October at the Wollongong Entertainment Centre, Penney put his old club to the sword with 36 points in just 27 minutes, including seven triples. While the match will feel in many ways like a trip down memory lane for the 35 year-old shooting guard, he won’t be stepping onto the court at the North Shore Events Centre, where he played all his home games with the Breakers, but Auckland’s 9,000 seat Vector Arena. “I’ve played at North Shore Events centre probably since I was 10 years-old, it’s a centre in which I grew up playing at,” says Penney. “But Vector Arena is a place we always spoke about playing at if the Breakers could get to that level and it’s just awesome that they’ve been able to and actually do a really good job and fill the stadium on numerous occasions and put together a really good show.” With his both teams now really starting to hitting their straps, each with four wins from their last five games, Sunday’s game certainly is shaping up to be a very entertaining and tight contest. And Penney is certainly glad that he’s going back across the Tasman with a Hawks team that is starting to click. “As the season has progressed and we’ve got the full squad healthy we’ve shown that we can really be a good team and play a really exciting brand of basketball that the fans can enjoy,” he says. Catch the Illawarra Hawks take on the New Zealand Breakers today at 3:00pm EDT - live and free around the country on GEM. Click HERE for the preview.
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