Breaking the Ton
It is party night at the Trusts Stadium in Waitakere this Thursday as the club – and two of its foundation players – celebrate 100 games in the Australian NBL when the New Zealand Breakers take on the Perth Wildcats.
Paul Henare and Aaron Olson have never missed a Breakers match since first suiting up for the club’s debut match against the Adelaide 36ers in October 2003.
On that night Olson contributed 20 points and something similar against Perth would be welcome as he has made a quiet start to the season with just 5 points in the opening two games. Captain Paul Henare has been his normal consistent self, contributing 19 points, six rebounds and five assists.
Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis says 100 consecutive games is a great achievement for the pair.
“A hundred games in the NBL is great, but to play all those games for the one club without missing a match is quite something,” Lemanis said.
“It shows their value to the club and speaks volume for the type of people they are.
“I hope to be here for the next hundred games with these guys because they’re a pleasure to coach.
“The milestone also shows that the club is starting to develop some history and traditions and is maturing as a brand.”
A FEW THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT OUR CENTURIONS
AO loves the LA Lakers and Magic Johnson: “I was in Hawaii when I was 10 years old and got to meet the team. I got all their autographs and from then on they were my team.”
NBA legend Steve Nash was an inspiration for Olson growing up in Victoria, Canada: “We are from the same town and I used to play against him every now and again in the Summer Leagues. He’d kick my arse for a little bit and ensure I went away to work harder. His work ethic was unbelievable. If I could do just half what he does I’d be in good shape.”
The most unusual place Olson has played was in Finland for Aanekosken Huima: “I knew one of the imports who was going to play there and he persuaded the coach to sign me up. It was cold, dark and interesting. We were in a town of just 8000 people and there was no video store, no nothing.”
To relax, AO “reads a fair bit, a lot of historical novels. And I lay around the house, enjoy the sun and do as little as possible. I love traveling and I try to get away when I can.”
“Paulie” was introduced to the game by his older brother Jamie: “I was always hanging around with him and his mates, who were three years older. I was the little tag-along.”
Henare had instant success as a basketballer at secondary school: “I went to Napier Boys High School and was the first 3rd former to ever make the Senior A team. We won the National title that year, even though it was the first time we’d ever been to the Nationals.”
Judd Flavell, now an assistant coach with the Breakers, was an inspiration for the young Paul Henare: “Judd came and played in the Hawkes Bay for four years and lived with me and my family for three of those years. He was someone I looked up to big time.”
Henare, who gave up rugby and cricket to pursue basketball at school, also had to cut short a brief flirtation with rugby league: “I’d actually started playing rugby league, taking a break after the 2002 World Champs in Indianapolis, when Nenad Vucinic got me involved with OKK Belgrade in Yugoslavia. The league was more to stay fit, but when the chance to further develop overseas came up, it was a pain to give it up because I was really enjoying myself!”
Henare is surrounded by two Breakers businesses: “My wife Jacinta is fully involved in the family business, running the Breakers Café chain. They set up the first Breakers Café in Napier back in 1996 – ages before the Breakers basketball team came along – and it’s been constantly expanding ever since. There’s 11 open around the country and there will be 13 by the end of the year.”
WILDCATS WINNING START
The Perth Wildcats come to town with four straight wins under their belt and will be encouraged by the fact that they won twice in Auckland last season. In total the clubs have met nine times with the Breakers winning three.
Former Breaker Shawn Redhage is averaging an impressive 26.3 points per game for the Wildcats this season and is third in the ppg category in the NBL at the end of Round 3 behind Martin Cattalini (Cairns) 28.5 and Mike Helms (Singapore) 27.0.
Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis says the Wildcats will be a challenge given the confidence they have from their unbeaten start to the season.
“They’re a big team, run their offence very well and rebound superbly given their height.”
Brian Wethers is showing no ill effects from the broken nose he suffered at the hands – or, rather, arm – of his team mate Mika Vukona in last Thursday’s loss to the Sydney Kings.
Wethers wasn’t the only Breaker to be touched up by the powerhouse Vukona, leading Breakers general manager Richard Clarke to ask the question: What category does Vukona lead the NBL in? The answer: injuries to his own team mates!
The following records are from the first three seasons in the Philips Championship and don’t include the first two games of the current 2006/2007 season.
|Most Points||Aaron Olson (1401)||Mike Chappell (1034)|
|Most Assists||Paul Henare (397)||Aaron Olson (200)|
|Blocked Shots||Ben Pepper (69)||Rich Melzer (35)|
|Most Steals||Dillon Boucher (113)||Aaron Olson (93)|
|Most Rebounds||Ben Pepper (679)||Pero Cameron (314)|
|Highest Team Score||120 vs Townsville||Jan 2006|
|Lowest Opponent Score||69 vs Victoria||Feb 2004|
|Record Win||32 vs Victoria||Dec 2003|
|Winning Streak||5||Jan-Feb 2004|
TIME TO FLY
The Breakers have a quick turnaround before the season’s first trip across the Tasman.
Celebrations surrounding the 100th game will be muted as the team departs Auckland the following day for Sydney and a double-header long weekend playing the West Sydney Razorbacks on Saturday night and the Hawks in
Wollongong on Monday night.
The team then scurries back across the ditch to take on the Brisbane Bullets at the North Shore Events Centre on Wednesday 18 October.
Coach Andrej Lemanis says playing four games in seven days will be a challenge, especially given the trans-Tasman travel.
“Looking at it positively, it’s an opportunity to really strengthen your position within the championship and if you do well you’re starting to assert yourself on the table.
“I also know the guys would prefer to be playing than squaring off against each other time and again on the training court.”
One drawback in tackling back-to-back games is that the time to scout the opposition is severely limited, but Lemanis isn’t duly concerned.
“You have to rely more on your default rules and plans, but they’re all in place and the guys know exactly what they have to do.”