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R6 Preview: New Zealand v Perth

Who: New Zealand Breakers v Perth Wildcats When: 5.30pm (AEDT), Friday 13 November Where: Vector Arena, Auckland Watch: Fox Sports (Live and in HD); Sky Sports NZ; NBL Live App Last time they met: Perth 83 (Beal 19, Knight 14, Wagstaff 14) d New Zealand 80 (Abercrombie 23, Cedric Jackson 19, Bartlett 17), Round 2, Perth Arena THE MATCH-UP Jarrod Kenny v Cedric Jackson – Kenny has had plenty of practice marking the former league MVP on the training floor, and if he can negotiate the myriad of ball-screens and limit the need for early rotations, Jackson’s effectiveness as a distributor can be curtailed. Easier said than done, of course. THE STATS Jackson has averaged 8.6 assists against all other opponents this season, but was held to just three dimes at Perth Arena in Round 2. Kenny has committed only eight turnovers in 242 minutes this season. When he hits two triples the Wildcats are 5-0, when he hits fewer they are 1-3. THE STORY Jarrod Kenny is very much looking forward to getting back to Auckland this Friday, but perhaps not for the reason you might expect. “I’m excited to go home and see some family and friends,” he said. “I haven’t thought too much about the Breakers but I’m sure it’ll be an awesome experience being on the other side.” While Kenny was never officially a Breaker, he was a firmly-knitted part of their program as a training squad member and Tall Blacks teammate to many of the club’s stars. Moving west this season after an unexpected call from Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson, he sometimes feels he’s looking at a mirror image of his old team. “I think there are a lot of similarities between the two clubs,” he said. “They're both very professional off the court in terms of their club, their values and their structure, I think they're similar in that manner. “On court they both demand excellence. Perth, with the history they have, is something to try and continue, and the Breakers for their short time have a pretty good record as well.” Kenny’s record as a 30-year-old rookie is also impressive, using the poise learned playing against the world’s best international teams, and developing a knack for hitting dagger triples, such as the clutch sealer against New Zealand in Round 2. His defence, tempo control and commitment to getting the ball inside to Nate Jawai and Matt Knight have also been noteworthy, and those attributes will be crucial against open-court specialists like Cedric Jackson, Corey Webster and Tom Abercrombie. “That’s our thing, knowing where our shots are coming from, eliminating wasted possessions and running our offences, and that will help keep them out of transition,” he said. And as much as he hasn’t thought too much about the Breakers, the challenge of defending Cedric Jackson is one he can’t wait to get his teeth into. “Definitely, he’s world-class,” Kenny said. “It seems like every week in this league you’re going up against a great point guard.” THE WRAP Forget the form line when these teams meet, their rivalry ensuring a fiery and physical clash. There’ll be #hardball a plenty if Mika Vukona’s back in the Breakers line-up to butt heads with hard nuts Knight, Shawn Redhage and Jesse Wagstaff. Webster and Jermaine Beal will bring the finesse, Abercrombie and Casey Prather the breathtaking athleticism, Charles Jackson and Jawai the dunking power, but perhaps it is how much ball-screen carnage Cedric Jackson creates that will determine if Perth can keep the Breakers to a losing score.
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