R1 Game Preview: Adelaide v New Zealand
WEDNESDAY 7 OCTOBER: Adelaide 36ers v New Zealand Breakers, Titanium Security Arena
It’s finally time for #HardBall.
The Adelaide 36ers have the honour of opening the NBL’s 38th season tonight, hosting the defending Champions, the New Zealand Breakers at Titanium Security Arena.
Both sides have very different teams compared to last season, with Adelaide boasting two new imports and New Zealand down three having left Tom Abercrombie (hamstring) and Alex Pledger (toe) at home due to injury; while star Corey Webster is on the verge of earning an NBA roster position and remains in New Orleans.
With the Breakers undermanned, the Sixers have a golden opportunity to strike early at their home court and make a statement to the competition with their underdog line-up.
Adelaide has promised to continue their high-octane offense and will be looking to have a team that aims to lead the League in scoring, with Kenyon McNeail, Nathan Sobey and Lucas Walker all extremely athletic and ready to put on a show.
Daniel Johnson will also be crucial for Adelaide, and although the versatile centre was not an ideal fit last year, this time round he is set to be a key piece.
The greatest unknown in this game will be the return of Ebi Ere. He has been kept under wraps in the pre-season and after six and a half years absence, can he be the same force he was when he won Championships and led the NBL in scoring?
This is not to discount the Breakers. At last week’s pre-season Blitz, despite being severely undermanned, New Zealand beat the Townsville Crocodiles, gave it up to the Perth Wildcats by just six points and then pushed the Cairns Taipans all the way before losing by five in overtime.
It was the less glamorous names of Everard Bartlett, Shea Ili and Shane McDonald that proved that the Breakers roster runs very deep and won’t back down without a fight.
Watch tonight from 7:30pm AEDT on FOX SPORTS News 500 or via the NBL LIVE app.
BY THE NUMBERS
Head-to-head: 44 games played.
Adelaide 36ers: 18 wins.
New Zealand Breakers: 26 wins.
In Adelaide: 21 games played.
Adelaide 36ers: 11 wins.
New Zealand Breakers: 10 wins.
2014/15 in Adelaide:
Round 4) 36ers by 7
Round 13) Breakers by 7
Semi-Finals) Breakers by 11
Adelaide head coach Joey Wright needs just one more career victory to equal Phil Smyth as the 7th most wins in NBL history.
Currently on 204 victories from his 350 games, Wright has coached 15 games less than Smyth (365 games, 204 wins)
OPENING NIGHT - Adelaide ended last season with a 0-2 loss to the New Zealand Breakers in the semi-finals. This will be the fourth time the Sixers play a team to open their season, after playing them in their last game the previous year. The previous three occasions have resulted in a loss for Adelaide.
2003: Played West Sydney after beating them in the 2002 Grand Final – Lost by 12 at Sydney
1997: Played South East Melbourne Magic after losing to them in 1996 semi-finals – Lost by 2 at Adelaide
1988: Played the Perth Wildcats after losing to them in 1987 semi-finals – Lost by 3 at Perth
NEWBIE MAKES HISTORY - Breakers guard Shane McDonald will make his own history this match as just the third player in history to play three consecutive career games with three different clubs. In January 2009 he played the last of five games for Perth and his next and last game was for the Tigers at New Zealand in January 2012.
Previously, Grant Kruger left Townsville at the end of 1998 to join Newcastle but his season lasted just 45 seconds into the first game with a knee injury. The following season he suited up for the Taipans. Matt Alexander played just 2:50 for the Giants in one game in 1993 between seasons at Geelong (1992) and Newcastle (1994).
SAME INITIAL, SAME SURNAME - The Breakers imports are Cedric Jackson and Charles Jackson, and they become the second set of players in history that have played on the one team with the same surname and same first initial.
For 12 games in 2007 amd 2008, the Tigers had Darryl McDonald and Derrick McDonald suit up together and three times they were on the floor at the same time. Of course, they were father and son!