16 Sep 2020

Long lay-off concerns Breakers coach

7:40 am on 16 September 2020

Endless days of running drills with a partial squad is not the pre-season that Dan Shamir was hoping for in his second season as Breakers coach.

Breakers coach Dan Shamir.

Breakers coach Dan Shamir. Photo: Photosport

The Australian National Basketball League mooted a mid-January start for the next season - which is 10 months after the last competition shutdown due to Covid-19.

The intervening months saw the Breakers bolster their roster with the addition of import players American Colton Iverson and former Brisbane Bullets player Lamar Patterson as well as Tall Black point guard Tai Webster.

New Zealand's border restrictions could keep the import players out and Shamir said he was "in the dark" about when he would see Iverson and Patterson in action at the club's Auckland gym alongside the seven players he was regularly working out.

Shamir's roster is coming together with only one "local" spot to be filled by a New Zealand or Australian player and the possibility of a a Next Star player to fill the gap left by RJ Hampton.

Captain Tom Abercrombie, Corey Webster, Rob Loe, Finn Delany, Tai Webster, Jarrad Weeks and Daniel Trist have been available for Shamir to shape into a side that plays in his preferred style which will have some tweaks from the last time they took the court.

New Zealand Breakers Finn Delany.

Breakers player Finn Delany has been working out at Breakers HQ for months on end. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"We were a little bit different, I don't know if dramatically different, to other teams but we want to be a little bit more disciplined with how we read a few things offensively and how we defend a few actions," Shamir said.

Last season Shamir arrived in New Zealand in July for a rushed pre-season, when he took over the coaching role from Kevin Braswell, but he did not feel the current situation was any better.

"In all honesty it is tough, it's tough on all of us, we want to play it's been a long time without a competition and there is a limit to how much you can achieve without competition.

"People don't get better even without playing in games. We need to succeed and fail and analyse and we just need to compete to get better, this is what we live for."

The Breakers players opted out of the New Zealand local competition -the NBL Showdown - so have only had each other and a few New Zealanders who popped into the gym during periods back home during the pandemic to test themselves against.

Tall Blacks Tai Webster fends off  Lebanon's Elias Ruston during the Tall Blacks win over Lebanon in Rotorua.

Tai Webster returned home to New Zealand after playing overseas and has decided to sign on with the Breakers for the season. Photo: Photosport

"We still need to get the most out of this situation and we're teaching a lot and we're building the relationships and we're spending time together, but we're not over doing it. We're going in waves and some weeks we are doing more and some weeks we are doing less just to keep the guys maintained, but we start in full steam when we have to and that's much closer to the season."

NBL owner and executive chairman Larry Kestelman said the main reason for pushing the start of the season back to the new year is to give the clubs the best opportunity to play in front of as many fans as possible.

However, the exact start date could be effected by a number of factors including travel and border restrictions, community transmission numbers of Covid-19 and availability at venues across Australia and New Zealand.

The NBL said the plan was to play a full season and the competition will be played in one or more hubs to achieve this, but Shamir said he was still unsure exactly how that would play out.