Hungry Jack's NBL
Tall Blacks: Best NBL Performances
The FIBA Oceania Series concluded on Tuesday night and the Australian Boomers booked their trip to Rio with a 89-79 win, sweeping the series 2-0. While NBA Champion Andrew Bogut was stellar with ten points and ten rebounds, Cleveland’s Matthew Dellavedova got the job done at both ends, collecting 14 points and five rebounds. New Zealand didn't go down without a fight, with only a deficit of seven points at the main break thanks to an even second term. Some late full-court pressure earned the Tall Blacks a 16-2 run in the final four minutes, but it wasn’t enough to get them over the line, despite some impressive performances from the strong NBL contingent. The sharp shooting Corey Webster scored the game-high again, notching 16 points, three assists and two rebounds while his Breakers captain Mika Vukona registered eight points and eight rebounds. Fan favourite Tom Abercrombie had a reliable eight points to go with three boards and three assists while spark plug Reuben Te Rangi put up 14 points off the bench. The Tall Blacks team in the FIBA Oceania Series featured more NBL players than the Australian Boomers line-up, so we look at the best performances they’ve put up in our own backyard. Mika Vukona Mika Vukona was a member in the very first New Zealand Breakers line-up in October 2003 and continues to make history as a winner. Vukona has five NBL Championships under his belt – one of just four men to have ever won that many. Vukona has played in 10 seasons for the Breakers, only separated by a season at the South Dragons in 2009 and the Gold Coast in 2010. The Breakers captain has more rebounds (2193) than any other current player in the NBL and his durability is legendary, having missed just one game in 335 through injury in 10 years as a pro. Vukona has hit his career-highs in both points and boards twice, 24 points playing for Gold Coast against New Zealand in February 2010 and again for the Breakers against the Hawks in February 2013. His career-high of 17 rebounds were registered with the Breakers against Brisbane in November 2005 and against Melbourne in November 2013. Thomas Abercrombie Thomas Abercrombie is the only player who was a starter in all four New Zealand’s NBL Championships, and was named Grand Final MVP in their historic first win in 2011. Abercrombie has played 193 NBL games, with a best of 33-points (featuring a career-best of six three-pointers) in a double overtime win against the Tigers on his home floor in North Shore. Abercrombie is a League favourite with his super athletic play and was named to the All-NBL first team in 2012. Lindsay Tait Lindsay Tait has played 147 games over seven seasons in the NBL, beginning with the Victoria Giants in 2003 and continuing with the Breakers (three years) Hawks (two years) and Cairns. His final year in 2011 was bittersweet as he was on the receiving end of the Breakers first title. His scoring-high was with Wollongong in October 2007 with 22 points and seven assists in a win over the Razorbacks. Corey Webster All 10 players on the FIBA Oceania Series Tall Blacks unit that have played in the NBL began their careers as a development player. Webster played two years in that learning role, but has now become a superstar at every level. He led the Breakers in scoring this year with a career best 27-points coming in a high pressure double overtime win at Perth Arena in February – the most by any New Zealand player this year. The sharp shooter continues to improve his game and led the Breakers 14 times in scoring this year, after being the high scorer just once the previous season. Reuben Te Rangi Rueben Te Rangi had a big impact for the Breakers in his first season as a full-time player in 2014, shooting at 52.4 per cent from the field (55-from-105) and playing the most minutes off the bench than any other player. His best game came against the Adelaide 36ers last October with the team-high 22 points, which included four buckets from three-point land. In the 2014/15 NBL season he played all but one match, starting for five games early in the year and had his first taste of Grand Final action in April to help New Zealand win their fourth NBL Championship in five years. Te Rangi has notched up 70 NBL games over his three years with the Breakers. Everard Bartlett Everard Bartlett grabbed headlines in 2006 before he had played his first NBL game by winning the Slam Dunk contest at the All-Star game in Sydney. After a couple of games for the Breakers in 2007, he was away from the NBL until 2012 when he played the first six games with the Wildcats and then transferred to Adelaide to play the last 16 games. The following year it was back to Perth for a full term but in a similar story to Lindsay Tait, his last NBL game was a Grand Final loss to his former team New Zealand. His career-best in his 56 NBL games was 16-points against the Cairns Taipans at Perth Arena in January 2013. Dion Prewster Dion Prewster played 12 games as a development player in 2012 and his best game came when the Breakers played at the Gold Coast in the final regular season game of the year. New Zealand had already locked in the top spot and Prewster enjoyed 16 minutes of playing time with seven points. The last game he suited up in the NBL was in Game 1 of the 2012 Grand Final in front of 9125 fans at Vector Arena, but didn’t get the chance to hit the court. Shea Ili, Tai Wynyard and Isaac Fotu have all also suited up for the New Zealand Breakers in their careers with limited court time. The Tall Blacks have another chance to qualify for the Rio Olympics at the 2016 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Men.