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Breakers brace for Bullets blitz

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 8/09/2016

The Breakers will test their pre-season combinations against some familiar faces in their three-match series against the Brisbane Bullets beginning in Tauranga next Tuesday.

The Bullets return to the Australian NBL after an eight-year absence, and - led by former Breakers mentor Andrej Lemanis - feature five current or former Australian Boomers.

Also prominent will be former Breaker Reuben Te Rangi, who crossed the Tasman in the off-season.

Under new coach Paul Henare, the Breakers have retained the core of last year's roster in Mika Vukona, Tom Abercrombie, Corey Webster and Alex Pledger.

Former club favourite Kirk Penney has returned, along with new American imports Ben Woodside - a former teammate of Penney's in Spain and Turkey -and Akil Mitchell, who will provide defensive steel in the power forward position.

Lemanis is looking forward to a competitive series against the Breakers, with both teams working hard on all facets of their games.

"For us, it's about starting to solidify our offensive and defensive frameworks and understand how we need to play in order to be successful," he said.

"It's a good opportunity to play against a team that will no doubt expose us in many ways."

Henare expects the series to be hugely competitive.

"This series with the Bullets comes at a perfect time in our pre-season and will lead us nicely into the Australian Basketball Challenge in Brisbane a week later," he said.

"The games will allow us to work on key areas, notably defensive patterns and chemistry between players, in particular for the newcomers to the roster."

Te Rangi says he's enjoying the new challenge at the Bullets, but admits it will be unusual to be on the outside of a Breakers huddle for the first time.

"It will be weird being on the opposite side but I can't wait, it will be a good challenge."

The two teams play their second game in Napier on September 15, with the third scheduled for Invercargill two days later.

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