NBL 2014/15 Round 4 Preview: Injury ravaged 36ers face tough task against Breakers

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Adelaide 36ers vs. New Zealand Breakers

Sunday 2nd November, 2014- 1.30pm (local time)

Adelaide Arena

Tickets: click here

Odds: Adelaide $2.55, New Zealand $1.52

The 36ers were clinical last weekend against Wollongong, overcoming the loss of Mitch Creek in a 23 point victory. Chasing their first win streak of the season, Adelaide have brought in Richie Edwards to replace Creek who is expected to miss at least another month with his ankle injury. At 6’ 7”, Edwards won the 2014 Rookie of the Year in the NZNBL and has already represented New Zealand at the 2009 Under 19’s World Championship. Despite covering that loss, Adelaide will still be without Jamar Wilson who has suffered a hamstring strain while Daequon Montreal is also doubtful. Without their two most prolific scorers and a bench player averaging 11 points and 4 rebounds, the 36ers will require a special performance this weekend.

A strong defensive effort saw New Zealand take care of Townsville earlier this round, holding the Crocs to a season low 70 in a 14 point victory. The Breakers have won two games in a row and will be further buoyed by their 21 point trouncing of Adelaide in Round 2 when a 31-16 third term put the match beyond doubt. In that contest, they shot 12-24 from the three point line, doubling the 36ers out-put. Without Wilson and Creek to guard the perimeter, the Breakers could again inflict some pain on the home side from distance this Sunday.

Key Player

Ekene Ibekwe

In all four of New Zealand’s victories this season, they have won the rebound count easily and Ibekwe’s performance in the paint has played a large role. He sits eighth in the competition for total rebounds while averaging a league best 3 offensive boards per game. The Breakers were totally dominant in the front court when these sides last met, recording 17 more rebounds while Ibekwe’s season high 6 offensive boards helped him to a double-double in just 23 minutes. The American born Nigerian has defined ‘hustle play’ and maintained his effort even when replaced in the starting line-up by Alex Pledger. It would not be a surprise to see these two players switch roles again this Sunday with Coach Dean Vickerman acutely aware of Ibekwe’s dominance in the Round 2 meeting.

What to Watch For

Breakers Fatigue

Round 4 will see New Zealand play twice in a round for the third straight week and although this is nothing new for NBL teams, the Breakers performance in the second game of double headers leaves a lot to be desired. Coming off a win against the 36ers in Round 2, New Zealand were thumped by Melbourne two days later, trailing by as much as 28. Last week, after a strong showing against Cairns, they comfortably led Wollongong on Sunday by 6 points with 11 seconds remaining. However, a brain fade from Corey Webster resulted in a technical foul; allowing the Hawks to string together five free throws and almost steal the game. This could be fatigue showing or a general lack of composure but that recent history will give the 36ers confidence in overcoming any fourth quarter deficit.

Final Word

The Breakers are a team that love to get after the rebounds as well as shoot the three ball and with the edge already under the rim, the injuries to Wilson and Creek give New Zealand a distinct advantage all around the court. Although Adelaide showed a strong resolve last weekend against Wollongong, their mounting injury toll combined with the Breakers fine form on Friday night pits them in an up-hill battle this Sunday.

New Zealand by 12