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The Australian National Basketball League begins tonight, although the New Zealand Breakers will have to wait two weeks for their first game.
They will be in action in two NBA-ANBL crossover games next week though. Jeff Cheshire looks at how the team is shaping up.
Rob Loe, RJ Hampton, Ater Majok, Scotty Hopson, Sek Henry, Brandon Ashley, Ethan Rusbatch.
Shea Ili, Shawn Long, Majok Majok, Armani Moore, Patrick Richard.
Corey Webster, Tom Abercrombie, Finn Delany, Jordan Ngatai, Tom Vodanovich, Jarrad Weeks.
The Breakers enter year two of their new era under Matt Walsh and his ownership group. That has brought a heightened global presence and its share of controversy. New coach Shamir brings experience, while there is talent among the roster. The guard line-up has potential to be exceptional with Corey Webster an undoubted talent, while Finn Delany is becoming increasingly dynamic in the front court. The import trio brings strong pedigree too. There is no glaring weakness, although this could be a very up-and-down team form-wise.
Which Webster will show up?
At his best he is sublime and showed that at the recent World Cup. But much of his best basketball has been played outside of New Zealand. Throw in the controversy about him wanting out of his contract, and you have to wonder where his head is. There is potential he could be the league's best player. There is also potential for him to be very average.
How good is RJ Hampton?
The NBA Next Stars programme adds major global interest to the league. It also adds a potential wild card to the league. Hampton is one of the most highly touted prospects in the world. But he is still only 18 and coming out of high school basketball. If he can match it against seasoned professionals, he could take the Breakers to another level.
This is a classic boom-or-bust team. It could potentially win the title if everything clicks. But it is up against some classy line-ups and getting everything to click may be a tough ask. It should be competitive, although the playoffs may be just out of reach.