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Woodside from North side to South side

Ben Woodside isn’t throwing lobs to NBA studs Kristaps Porzingis or Willy Hernangomez anymore but he is embracing his time with the New Zealand Breakers. The 31 year old American point guard put his distinguished European career on hold during the offseason to take up an offer to join the Breakers replacing club legend Cedric Jackson as the starting playmaker. With former European club mate Kirk Penney returning home to the Breakers and NBA aspirants Corey Webster and Thomas Abercrombie in the side, Woodside’s main job is to keep all his stars with good supply of the ball, especially when they are running hot. It’s a tough ask but nothing he hasn’t seen during his eight years on the continent which included time with successful clubs like CB Sevilla and Turk Telecom. While his value in Europe remains strong, Woodside was intrigued by the chance to start a new chapter in New Zealand and Australia. “I was in Europe for a good chunk of my career and I had the opportunity to come down here,” Woodside said. “So I thought why not explore a little more of the world and check out a side of the world I’ve never been to and join a new league.” Woodside’s connection to the Breakers started when Penney suggested him to Breakers coach Paul Henare as they searched for a point guard. “I’m just a suggestion guy, I just suggested him and I think Pauly and Dillon [Boucher] already knew who he was as I had played with him before,” Penney recalled. “They were really interested from the beginning then it was just a recruitment process to talk him into leaving Europe and coming here and playing. “The timing was right, it worked out and he wanted to come which is great.” He didn’t require all that much convincing either, especially after playing with Penney at Ankara Kolejliler in Turkey in 2013 and CB Sevilla in 2015. “There wasn’t much selling needed,” Woodside said. “I heard New Zealand was incredible and I wanted to check it out - the NBL is a great league, great players in this league and it’s a competitive league so that’s what I wanted to try.” Woodside is very much the prototypical point guard who runs the offence, sets up his teammates and can knock down his open three-pointers to keep the defence honest. His numbers won’t always be flashy but the former North Dakota State star has enjoyed wins and assists at the majority of his professional stops. “I met him when we were at Kolejliler in Ankara in 2013 and he led the league in assists that season and the team did really well,” Penney said. “In Sevilla we played with some young guys like Porzingis and Hernangomez, who are both with New York Knicks now, they both had a lot of potential and he was an experienced point guard leading that team. “I don’t know that Benny is going to be able to throw the alley-oops to ‘Zinga here but maybe Akil Mitchell can do it. “They were great guys and we enjoyed playing on that young team.” Like all other NBL sides, the Breakers are still meshing together their new players and returned stars like Penney. Woodside has also bonded with Henare over their shared passion for the point guard position with the player giving his coach’s playing career and his vision from the coaching bench rich praise. “Pauli is extremely talented, respected and a champion type point guard and he sees stuff that I don’t see on the floor so it’s great to communicate that way,” Woodside said. “I respect him a great deal, I like what he does and I like his competitiveness and his passion towards basketball. “I’ve heard he is a pretty intense guy but I haven’t seen too much of it but I can see it in his eyes so I know it’s there. “Being a point guard myself I think we have the same personality types and same drives and passions - it’s not surprising to me and I completely get it because that’s the type of player I am.”  
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