7 Oct 2016

Breakers all shook up ahead of season start

7:18 am on 7 October 2016

It's tip off time for the New Zealand Breakers tonight when they play Melbourne United in their National Basketball League season opener in Auckland.

Assistant coach Paul Henare of the Breakers celebrates after their 2014/15 ANBL Finals Win.

Paul Henare recently celebrating the Breakers triumph. Photo: Photosport

Both the playing roster and coaching staff have been shaken up this year but the Breakers still expect to finish one better than their second place last season.

Since the Breakers final series loss to the Perth Wildcats last season, the club has undergone a major overhaul - fan favourite, Dillon Boucher took over as general manager while his former teammate Paul Henare became head coach.

While most first time head coaches usually feel the pressure of a new season bearing down on them, Henare just wants to get on with it.

"Been the longest bloody week of my life.

"It's been weird, you spend all this time wanting to have practice time with the full squad and time to prepare for a game and then you have four days and it just seems like it goes forever so if I'm feeling that way I know the guys are as well," Henare said.

Upper management wasn't the only department to undergo change at the Breakers, the playing roster also had a shake up.

Two new American imports were welcomed while an old friend turned foe - Kirk Penney also returned.

Kirk Penney may have retired frrom international basketball but he will returning to the NZ Breakers.

Kirk Penney may have retired frrom international basketball but he will returning to the NZ Breakers. Photo: Photosport

Penney was part of the Breakers first championship win back in 2011 before taking his talents overseas.

Last season Penney was part of the Illawarra Hawks team that beat the Breakers in every match they met.

Now he's back and while he and the Breakers top point scorers were all injured during the pre-season, he said come game time tonight, they'll be ready.

"We're very lucky now that all the guys are healthy and ready for when it counts and we've had a really good week.

"I think this season is going to be very competitive, a lot of good teams a lot of good players, and being healthy is very important so we're starting on the right foot at least," Penney said.

The club may have signed some old and new talent, but it also lost a number of key players.

Two of the biggest losses will come face to face with the Breakers tonight at Vector Arena.

Cedric Jackson of the Breakers celebrates a three pointer.

Cedric Jackson will be on the other side of the court against the Breakers this season. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Both American point guard Cedric Jackson and power forward Tai Wesley were influential in the Breakers success over the past five seasons but will both line up for Melbourne United this year.

Breakers swingman Tom Abercrombie played alongside both Jackson and Wesley during their stints in New Zealand and is ready to welcome them back to Auckland.

"We know them pretty well they know us pretty well, it works both ways.

"I know they'll be excited about coming back, we can't wait to get out there to play against them and really start this season off in the right way with a great crowd, what could be better?"

Tip off between the Breakers and Melbourne United at Vector Arena is at 7.30 tonight.