Tom Abercrombie, Alex Pledger will be game-day decisions for NZ Breakers
Breakers coach Dean Vickerman describes the chances as “promising” of crocked duo Tom Abercrombie and Alex Pledger suiting up for Sunday’s Australian NBL (ANBL) home opener against the Townsville Crocs.
The same could also be said for the prospects of rookie import big man Charles Jackson remaining a key part of the rotation after the 22-year-old’s light-amid-the-gloom debut in Adelaide last Wednesday night.
First things first. Abercrombie, the 1.98m small forward, and Pledger, the 2.15m centre, both took a full part in Saturday’s scrimmage at Atlas Place and appeared unencumbered by their recent issues.
Abercrombie re-strained his hamstring against the Sydney Kings pre-season and has been on light duties ever since, while Pledger is working back to full mobility after his off-season foot surgery.
After Wednesday’s shoddy 90-71 defeat to the Sixers in Adelaide, there’s a feeling that the Breakers could do with an injection of quality and experience. But Vickerman is not going to take any chances with two such valuable members of his squad.
So, despite Abercrombie declaring he’s “ready” to return, and both ticking the right boxes through the last couple of days, Vickerman said they would remain a game-day decision, most probably after morning shoot-around.
“Both looked pretty good today,” Vickerman said. “But we still want to see how they pull up from it.
We’ll assess them in the morning, but promising is a good word to describe their prospects.”
Vickerman emphasised he wouldn’t make a knee-jerk decision on the back of a flat first-up effort in Adelaide.
“We played with only half our salary cap on the court, and still expected to play well. We didn’t do that but that game is not going to decide how quickly we bring people back. We’re going to bring them back when they’re ready and these two are close to ready.”
In an Adelaide game where few, if any, Breakers got the job done, Jackson’s second-half efforts were promising. He finished with 12 points – all after the break – on six-of-eight shooting and added seven rebounds, a steal and a block. Importantly, he was active and energetic and connected on a couple of nice plays with Cedric Jackson.
“He showed what we can get from him,” Vickerman said. “In the first half he messed up a couple of plays and I pulled him out just to let him know that’s not acceptable. In the second half there was freedom to go play and he showed he’s going to be important as we go against some quality bigs the next few games.”
The Crocs bring legit size in the 2.16m Luke Schenscher, 2.06m Nick Kay and 1.98m league MVP Brian Conklin who poured in 25 points in a Friday 99-84 home defeat to Melbourne United.
Jackson took little satisfaction from his own second-half efforts and said everybody knew what they had to do to turn things around for the Crocs.
“We’ve got to come out and work harder,” he said. “It’s definitely fixable. It was our mistakes that got us in trouble and it’s our job to fix them. That’s all we need to do.”
The rookie pro from Sacramento said his chemistry with his playmaking namesake was “only going to get better” and felt he would also benefit from having tucked that first experience under his belt.
“It was a little physical but nothing I can’t handle. It’s a learning process and I know what to expect now when I get out there.”
Tipoff Sunday at Vector is 3pm. Skipper MIka Vukona said Wednesday’s rebounding effort was “embarrassing” and described the intensity levels as “unacceptable”. Given the Crocs also started with a loss, expect early desperation from both sides.