New Zealand Breakers coach Mody Maor says his side is ready to “close the circle” on a difficult two years by claiming their place in the NBL grand final series with a victory over the Tasmania JackJumpers at a venue which holds many unhappy memories.
Maor has a fully fit squad for game two of the semifinals after the Breakers’ dominant 88-68 victory over the JackJumpers at Auckland’s Spark Arena last Sunday and the signs are good that the series will be wrapped up tonight – tip-off in Hobart is at 9.30pm NZT.
And while he said, tongue in cheek, that Melbourne and Hobart are two cities which gave him post traumatic stress disorder after he and his side were based there for the last two seasons due to the pandemic, he admitted there will be a sense of closure should the Breakers get the job done at the MyState Bank Arena, the scene of 10 straight defeats for the Breakers.
“These are probably the two sites of PTSD… all the guys have been through it… I also know this is the happiest I’ve been in this place,” Maor said in a media call this morning.
“You could take that as a good sign. Overcoming your demons is fun. Those challenges are great.”
He added: “This is the place that was our pseudo home for the last two seasons. It’s a place I don’t like, it’s a place we do not like to be in.
“We really prefer to be in New Zealand – they’re the memories that this place brings. Other than that, it’s a nice place to play a good competitive game with nice, engaged fans.”
Referring specifically to those occasionally boisterous fans, Maor was adamant he didn’t want to “take the crowd out of the game”.
“We can’t control the crowd. The crowd does its thing, the crowd in Tasmania is great, we’ll enjoy what they bring.
“We like playing in environments that are feisty and hot.”
Should the Breakers lose tonight, the third game in the series will be held at Spark Arena on Sunday, but for now they have the advantage.
NBL records show that game one winners in a playoffs series go on to win the series about 85% of the time, but that statistic was given short shrift by the pragmatic Maor.
“These numbers don’t mean much to me,” he said. “These numbers go back so far, the league was so different, the way the competition worked was so different.
“The number that matters to me if you want to look at any stat is look at what Tasmania did with Melbourne United last year; the first game looked very similar to our first game and they came out with the series.
“We know the level of competition that we need to play against, we know what’s expected for us and we’re looking forward to taking care of business in the same way we do things. It’s not so much about the result but the way we perform.”
The Breakers’ game one victory last weekend was built on a fast start helped by defensive intensity.
With Barry Brown Jr playing limited minutes due to a wrist injury, Dererk Pardon scored a game-high 15 points, but most players contributed offensively for the Breakers and Moar will hope that continues against a JackJumpers team in which Milton Doyle is an attacking linchpin.
“Their style of play is pretty straightforward and clear – I’m sure they’re going to double down on the things that make them who they are; their full-court press, their intensity, their defence. The same challenges we needed to meet in game one we’re going to need to meet in game two.”