Breakers beaten in opener

Shea Ili takes an off balanced shot for the Breakers as Bullets defender Reuben Te Rangi watches...
Shea Ili takes an off balanced shot for the Breakers as Bullets defender Reuben Te Rangi watches on. Photo: Getty Images
If you weren't ready to welcome to the new era of New Zealand Breakers basketball before, you no longer have the choice.

With Mika Vukona lining up for the visiting Brisbane Bullets in the season opener at Spark Arena on Thursday, any unwilling to embrace the new age were jolted into reality.

The Kiwi side, with a Barstool Sports logo emblazoned on the right of their jerseys, rung in the new age with a hot opening quarter, as co-owners Matt Walsh and ex-NBA star Shawn Marion watched courtside.

Unfortunately, basketball is a four quarter game.

Leading 21-14 after the opening 10 minutes for coach Kevin Braswell's reign, the Breakers teetered on the side of a cliff before plunging completely off it. Outscored 21-17 and 24-17 in the second and third quarters respectively, things just got worse for the hosts as the game went on.

With a revamped roster, it was the new additions in Shawn Long, Armani Moore, Jarrad Weeks and Patrick Richard who looked the most impressive, though their time on the court was largely limited.

Long drew the start at centre and it's hard to see him losing that spot after posting 10 points, seven rebounds as well as being one of just two Breakers who saw time on the court at the end of the game without a negative number in the plus/minus column.

Recently named captain Thomas Abercrombie – the only member of last year's starting five still with the team – was undeniably the most disappointing in the season opener. He drained just one of five field goals and shot 50% at the charity stripe in a very forgettable 31-minute performance.

While the Breakers captain went missing, Bullets leader Cameron Gliddon was everywhere. The Brisbane guard scored a game high 29 points, including 15 from beyond the three-point arc, shooting an efficient 61% from the floor. Small forward Alonzo Gee and centre Cameron Bairstow, who both spent time in the NBA over their careers, proved to be good secondary scoring options for the visitors, adding 13 and 14 points respectively.

On the bright side for the Breakers familiar faces, Corey Webster's return to Spark Arena in a Breakers uniform was a welcome one. The 28-year-old guard continued where he left off in the preseason showcase against the Phoenix Suns, carrying the team with 23 points, only four of which came in the final quarter, shooting 50%.

Committing more turnovers and being beaten convincingly on the offensive glass will be a concern to Braswell's men. With plenty of strength and length on the roster, the Breakers could only collect 35 rebounds to Brisbane's 39 – being out-rebounded on the offensive end 12 to 6.

The team will have a few days to re-focus before they return to action, with a meeting against the defending champion Melbourne United side across the Tasman on Sunday evening.

Brisbane Bullets 86 (Cameron Gliddon 29 points, Cameron Bairstow 14, Alonzo Gee 13) NZ Breakers 73 (Corey Webster 23, Tai Wesley 12, Shawn Long 10). 1Q: 14-21. HT: 35-38. 3Q: 59-55.

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