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After losing to the Perth Wildcats by more than 20 points last night for the second time this season, Breakers' assistant coach Dean Vickerman believes it is time to look for a new path against their fierce rivals.
Vickerman highlighted the Breakers' travel and tactics as areas that can be improved following the 64-89 defeat in Perth, but credited the Wildcats intensity and desperation to win.
"We kind of felt a little bit through the week that we lacked a bit of edge in our practice," Vickerman said.
"Our offence dried up in the second and third quarter due to some pretty intense defence and we struggled with our structure and ended up taking a lot of toughly contested three-point shots with bad results.
"They've beaten us the same way a couple of times now, so we need to find a new path."
What that path is remains to be seen, but there is plenty of time between now and when the sides next meet on February 1, to figure out a way to help reverse the plus-46 points difference between the sides in their series.
What is known is that they will need more from starters Alex Pledger (four points, two rebounds, three turnovers), Tom Abercrombie (two field goals from six attempts for six points) and Mika Vukona (two goals from nine attempts for just four points) if they are to have any chance of success.
The Breakers were aiming for a club-record eighth consecutive win, but it was never going to come easy at the Perth Arena with 11,086 fans and a deep-rooted rivalry standing in the way.
"We took a championship off them last year which they feel should have been theirs and they get up for us," said Vickerman.
"But I think more than anything they just wanted to treat their amazing crowd to a show of how Perth can play basketball. Their desperation level was higher than ours last night."
Vickerman expressed concern that home court advantage in the playoffs was possibly unsalvageable should the Breakers and Wildcats finish the regular season on equal points.
"If we win the next two against them it still might not be enough to win the series due to the points spread. These are the things that can take away your home court advantage at the end of the season."
The defeat drops the Breakers to 7-2 for the season, sits them behind the Wollongong Hawks on the NBL ladder and snaps Perth's three-game losing skid as they improve to 4-3.
Vickerman said his side struggled with the 7pm tip-off time in Perth (midnight NZT) and was much more comfortable with the 2pm games on Sunday but would need to find a way around the time zone issue.
"It's been a few times now that we haven't done well playing in that time zone so whether we need to come a little earlier or later is something we need to assess as a club and see what we can do better."
The Breakers' next game is at the North Shore Events Centre against the Melbourne Tigers next Friday while the Wildcats have a Saturday night clash at the winless Townsville Crocodiles.
- By Steven Holloway of nzherald.co.nz