NBL: Perth Wildcats’ Greg Hire labels New Zealand Breakers double header “mini playoff series”

Bryce Cotton attempts a lay-up against New Zealand on Thursday. Picture: Getty Images
Bryce Cotton attempts a lay-up against New Zealand on Thursday. Picture: Getty Images

WE’LL be treating our two clashes against New Zealand over the next four days as a mini playoff series.

It always makes me laugh when I read pre-season predictions that don’t mention the Breakers as a threat. We have the utmost respect for them.

Like us, they’ve had a stable roster for most of this decade, which has led to multiple championships.

Players like Mika Vukona, Kirk Penney and Tom Abercrombie, who I consider one of the NBL’s most underrated basketballers, know each other’s games inside out.

New Zealand’s possession game is immense; they average 15 offensive rebounds and we only average nine.

It leaves us with a big test in Auckland tonight before returning to Perth Arena to face them again on Sunday.

The big news of the week was the retirement of an absolute champion of the game in Matty Knight.

Admittedly, we discussed the possibility of him retiring during the off season after our championship celebrations had died down. But he was still passionate about the game and still playing good basketball, so there was no reason for him to do so if he was to be medically cleared.

It was a different story when I spoke to him last Thursday and he mentioned retiring. He had to put his health first after becoming susceptible to head knocks.

It’s not like he’s sitting on the outside taking long-range shots, he’s in there battling the biggest guys in the league.

The moments we needed someone to step up, Matty was always there, putting his body on the line to take charge in the key or hustling to nail a clutch shot. I’m going to miss his influence on the court.