The New Zealand Breakers have had a rich history when it comes to scouting, producing, and displaying elite talent guards.
You look back through the years the club across the ditch played in Australia’s National Basketball League, and you find C.J. Bruton, Paul Henare, Kevin Braswell as well as Cedric Jackson and despite a short term stay, even Kevin Dillard late last season.
Henare and Braswell were there when the Breakers won their first ever championship in 2012, while the signature of Jackson resulted in a three-peat which put the New Zealand franchise on the map.
It’s safe to say, the Breakers love a star floor general who leads from the front.
Season 2017/18 is set to be no different; Edgar Sosa and DJ Newbill were New Zealand’s only two import signings over the off-season with a relatively concealed response.
The NBL’s pre-season period didn’t change NBL fans’ impression of the pair, however internally the Breakers couldn’t have been more pleased about both fitting in to their new club.
As the season opener arrived, many pundits had questions surrounding their roster, which resulted in predictions that the Breakers would be near, or on the foot of the NBL ladder (me included). Some even thinking about the future and wondering whether or not Shea Ili would be injected into the starting line-up, who was coming off a strong Asian Cup campaign with the Tall Blacks.
— NBL (@NBL) October 19, 2017
Alas, Sosa managed 15 points, while Newbill chimed in with 12 on debut in their loss to Cairns.
Newbill’s game winner against the Kings put him on the map, while Sosa’s 19 points and seven dimes in their follow up game against Sydney had spirits high.
Check out the winning layup from Friday night's game against Sydney Kings 🏀🙌
DJ Newbill, you did alright 👏👏 pic.twitter.com/Fy2UD2BzFE
— SKYCITY Breakers NZ (@NZBreakers) October 16, 2017
“The fans support has been crazy, better than I expected. I am just enjoying it and embracing it and hopefully we can keep getting them wins,” explained Newbill who has had a terrific start to his NBL career.
However, it wasn’t until the Breakers’ trip to Melbourne which really announced their arrival to the NBL.
Breakers head coach Paul Henare told media post game that he’s been impressed with how both players have held themselves since they arrived at the club.
“From day one, they’ve bought in to the name on the front of their chest, not the back,” Henare explained after the Breakers’ big win over Melbourne.
The Breakers fought back and made multiple runs to close out Melbourne, all off the back of their backcourt pairing.
Sosa hit big shot after big shot, finishing with 17 points and five assists. Newbill may not have been as efficient, however his 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists led the way.
— NBL (@NBL) October 22, 2017
The biggest win however was not in their numbers.
The Breakers held star Melbourne guards Casper Ware and Chris Goulding to just 13 points…combined!
Sosa stifled Ware, who struggled to find his rhythm in the game, shooting just 2-10 from the floor. It wasn’t just on ball defence either; Sosa understood Ware’s strengths and went to work attempting to eliminate them from his arsenal.
Newbill was just as good, tightly guarding Goulding’s hot spots and, while still making his way back to full fitness, finished 2-9FG himself.
“They’ve taken a little while to just figure out their roles, the league, our system and how we do things. I honestly believe they’re only going to get better,” expressed Henare who continues to be buoyant about what’s to come.
The Breakers exit round three of the NBL with a 3-1 record to sit second on the league’s table. Once again the team across the ditch have been underrated and are set to continue to raise eyebrows in the coming weeks – the production line will be a big part of their success this season.