3 Dec 2015

Breakers investigating claims of racial abuse

12:55 pm on 3 December 2015

The New Zealand Breakers are investigating claims of racial abuse at last night's game against the Perth Wildcats.

Mika Vukona and Nathan Jawai clash in ANBL game 2015.

Mika Vukona and Nathan Jawai clash in ANBL game 2015. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Fans have been accused of racially abusing Perth centre Nate Jawai, an indigenous Australian of Torres Strait Island descent, at the North Shore Events Centre during the Breakers' 99-78 victory.

Breakers' chief executive Richard Clark said the club did not condone the alleged actions of the fans.

"We don't condone or tolerate abuse in any form, and we would be both surprised and disappointed if our fans have behaved in this manner.

"We pride ourselves on the fan culture we have developed and if the type of behaviour that has alleged to have happened last night actually took place, this is not acceptable."

Complicating matters is that there has been nothing detailed from the Wildcats other than the allegation tabled at the press conference by Coach Trevor Gleeson.

"We have not received specifics on the allegations from the Wildcats, no complaint was raised to the NBL match manager or to us following the game, we have requested more clarification on the allegation to fully investigate."

Clarke said season members have however provided information already as to an exchange between fans and the Wildcats bench.

"We are aware of an exchange between fans and Nate Jawai as he exited the court following his third foul, but had not been aware of any suggestion of racial abuse. The fans who sit behind the visiting team bench are season members and we would be very disappointed if these fans had behaved in this way.

"We have had conversations with members who have seats in that area and their comments have been consistent in that while there was an exchange between fans and Jawai they are clear in their assertions that this exchange did not contain any racial abuse. We will continue to follow up today with members seated in this area to determine if they heard or saw any abusive behaviour."

Meanwhile, on the court, the Breakers celebrated their 200th home game with one of their best all-round performances of the season.

The Breakers - coming off a loss last Friday night to the Wildcats - needed a win to secure the series and they did it at both ends of the court, keeping Perth to under 80 points for only the fifth time this season.

"When you give up 52 points in the paint in a game [referring to their loss last Friday night], that's a pretty glaring number," Breakers super-sub Alex Pledger said.

"We were a lot more physical. We talked about guarding Jawai, but I thought those guards did well to make him uncomfortable. I thought we stepped up to that challenge."

Pledger came off the bench to score 11 points with seven rebounds, but the man of the hour was popular Tennessee import Charles Jackson who easily surpassed his season average of 11.25 points per game with a mammoth effort of 19 points and 12 rebounds to secure the double-double.

"He's really starting to find it," Breakers Coach Dean Vickerman said.

"He's able to protect the rim, he's the fastest big in the league. His attack on the offensive glass and his composure is just getting better. He rushed early on, but he's just getting better.

"He's a young energy, a raw energy which is infectious with the other guys. That was an amazing play on half-time when he came up with that rebound."

Jackson was the driving force for the Breakers, who were trailing early in the second quarter, but thanks to some stout defence and a 7/10 shooting day for Jackson, the Breakers were able to withstand the strong start from Perth, which led by 6 at one stage in the first half.

Tom Abercrombie was the Breakers top-scorer on 23 points after going 8-17 from the field with three three-pointers.

The Breakers now head to Townsville to play the Crocs this Saturday night.

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