Breakers didn't steal drinks: Webster

Corey Webster drives to the hoop for the New Zealand Breakers against the Perth Wildcats in Perth...
Corey Webster drives to the hoop for the New Zealand Breakers against the Perth Wildcats in Perth. Photo: Getty Images
The New Zealand Breakers have strongly denied reports that some of their players stole alcohol following their NBL defeat to the Wildcats in Perth.

The allegations of thievery are the latest in a string of controversies to rock the club this month, following the arrest of Glen Rice Jr for an alleged assault and a mid-air incident involving Tom Vodanovich en route to Auckland.

Australian media have reported Breakers boss Matt Walsh was forced to reimburse the Perth Wildcats after "at least one" Breakers player had taken alcohol from the Perth Arena without permission after the Kiwi franchise's round seven loss last weekend.

Breakers shooting guard Corey Webster told NZME while Walsh did reimburse the Wildcats, no alcohol was stolen.

"We were leaving the Perth Arena and I asked the staff if I could take a bottle of water. They said, 'yeah, sure' and then the guy next to the lady said, 'do you want to take some beers?'.

"I didn't take any myself but some of the guys said, 'yeah' and took some. Then a second load of our team came through and saw some guys in front with some drinks and they said, 'can we take some'.

"The guy was on the phone at this time and said, 'let me ask my manager'. He hung up the phone and said, 'yep, that's fine' and they took some. So there definitely, 100%, was nothing taken without asking, or stolen – I can vouch for that with my own eyes and ears, I saw the whole thing."

According to Webster, players were angered by reports suggesting they had stolen the drinks.

"The guys in our team are a great bunch of guys. There's no thieves in our team, there's no one who would take something like that without asking. If they had said, 'no' we simply wouldn't have taken it," he said.

Webster confirmed Breakers CEO Walsh, who also took ownership of the club in February 2018, had reimbursed the Wildcats.

"I heard Matt did reimburse them. He just didn't want to make a big deal out of it. I read the article after Matt had dealt with it. We didn't even know that it had come out. Then I messaged Matt and said, 'Look that's not what happened. I was there' and I said to him, 'I hope you didn't pay for it'."

The claims continued a tumultuous season for the club. Last week American import Rice Jr was suspended indefinitely following his arrest on a charge of assault with intent to injure at an Auckland bar.

Rice Jr, who has a history of ill-discipline, has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Days earlier Vodanovich issued a public apology after police were called when alcohol and a sleeping pill left him "loud and intoxicated" on the long-haul flight back from Perth.

Webster insists, however, the club does not have a culture of alcohol abuse.

"We don't have a drinking culture. I know that for sure. A lot of people have a lot of negative things to say and try to feed off that. But they're not here with us every day. They don't see the work, they don't actually know the culture that goes on here.

"We've got a great culture. A great bunch of guys. A great staff. We're all friends on and off the court.

"We're adults and grown men and just like everyone else they're allowed to have some drinks. They have drinks when it's appropriate sometimes.

"There's been a couple of instances when some things have happened but those are one-off instances. We have guys who generally don't get into trouble."

The Breakers are currently bottom of the Australian National Basketball League ladder with a 2-8 record - their worst start to a season since their inaugural campaign in 2003-04.

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