Breakers locked and loaded for season opener against Bullets

By James Perry

Kevin Braswell's Breakers side opens the new ANBL season at Spark Arena tomorrow night against the Brisbane Bullets.

The  three time championship-winning Breakers have undergone many changes during the off-season, with new owners, a new coach and players coming and going.

While they welcomed the return of Corey Webster and Tai Wesley, they also bid farewell to Tall Blacks Reuben Te Rangi and club legend Mika Vukona, who both return tomorrow with the Bullets. 

Small forward and Tall Blacks teammate Jordan Ngatai is expecting Vukona to be ready for the game and the crowd to get behind him. 

"He's one of the best players that ever played for this club, and he's done a lot for this club," says Ngatai.

Webster says, "It's just another game.  Once we step inside the lines, we're not friends anymore, it's all business.  It will be the same for them.  It's going to be kind of weird playing against them, but it is what it is.  That's the nature of the business, go out there and handle it."

Former player-turned-coach Braswell takes the reigns in his first ANBL match after Paul Henare decided not to extend his contract with the Auckland club at the end of last season.

Braswell is excited by the opening encounter at home tomorrow. 

"It's a good challenge for us tomorrow against Brisbane starting off.  It's a home game, one of the things that we always talk about is protecting your home floor, so yeah it will be a good test tomorrow."

Braswell's appointment as coach was the catalyst for the return of Corey Webster from China.  Webster led all scorers in their NBAxNBL clash against the Phoenix Suns last week with 27 points but it was his work with the ball that impressed Braswell. 

"People talk about his scoring, but it was how well he facilitated with the ball," he says.

Braswell points out that Webster finished with seven assists, without any turnovers.

"I spoke to him the night before the game, 'hey I want you to get everyone else involved', and he did a great job of that."

The Breakers will begin the Kevin Braswell era, and their quest to add a fourth title at Spark Arena tomorrow night, before taking on Melbourne United in their home city on Sunday.