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November: Player and Coach of the Month

The Championship defence of the New Zealand Breakers warmed up through November and Dean Vickerman and Corey Webster have earned the NBL Coach and Player of the Month honours. Following Melbourne United's Dean Demopoulos and Chris Goulding claiming the same awards in October following their unbeaten start to the 2015/16 NBL season, again a coach and player from the same team have taken out the awards for November. The Breakers played their first four games of the season without Webster, winning just one, but things changed dramatically on his return. The defending Champions won their last two games in October and won four of their six in November to consolidate third position and to be hot on the heels of Melbourne United and the Perth Wildcats. Vickerman was named NBL Coach of the Month for November and it has been no coincidence that Webster's return has gone hand in hand with the Breakers' resurgence. He missed the opening four games while with the New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA and only narrowly missed a final roster spot. Through his six games in November, the shooting guard averaged 23.6 points a game including a career-high 39 points in a win in Auckland over Melbourne United.

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Voting was collated from a media panel of representatives, all submitting their selections for Coach and Player of the Month on a 3-2-1 basis. Vickerman is in his third season as head coach after several years as an assistant to Andrej Lemanis during the Championship three-peat in 2011, 2012 and 2013. After a tough season minus Cedric Jackson in 2013/14, the Breakers returned to Championship glory under Vickerman last season. The 2015/16 season started a little shakily with road losses to Adelaide, Illawarra and Perth before wins late in October over Sydney and Cairns. It was a 98-88 win over the 36ers to start November before a one-point loss in Melbourne. The Breakers responded by beating the Wildcats, Kings and United before another tight defeat at the hands of the 'Cats in Perth last Friday. It hasn’t been smooth sailing with Webster missing the first four games, captain Mika Vukona battling a hamstring injury that he's only now on top of and power forward Tai Wesley having missed the last 10 games. However, the Breakers have improved to 8-5 after a win at home over Perth on Wednesday which saw them claim the season-series against their recent rivals. Highlighting Vickerman's ability to coach and get the best out of his Breakers team was the way they responded to last Friday's loss in Perth to beat the Wildcats at home on Wednesday. "There were challenges at shoot around, everybody got challenged. We hated what happened in Perth and it didn't sit well with any of us that we came into the review and talked about being soft," Vickerman said. "That's a word that just doesn't sit right with this team, but we were honest enough to say what we were and we were able to make a change. Credit to the bigs, they were outstanding and their ability to just protect the paint was excellent." Webster has continued to improve season on season and following his starring role for New Zealand at last year's FIBA World Cup and then in the NBL championship team, he received his NBA chance. He impressed with the Pelicans but narrowly missed out, and returned to the Breakers with a point to prove. In nine games this season, the 27-year old has continued to put up career-high numbers, including in a 39-point explosion against Melbourne on November 22. Webster is perhaps the most explosive and unstoppable offensive player in the NBL. The three-time championship winner certainly feels at the peak of his game. "I’ve never felt this comfortable on the court before and I guess it’s showing. Coming off the back of a good series with the national team and then having that stint over in the US really helped boost my confidence levels," Webster said. "It kind of feels like everything is just going to work and you have supreme confidence in everything you do. It just feels like you’ve got more time to do things on the court."
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