You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Dillard behind Breakers surge: Penney

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/01/2017

Kevin Dillard has been hailed as the ultimate spark plug in the New Zealand Breakers' late-season surge towards the NBL play-offs.

Veteran Kirk Penney says Dillard has lifted the four-time champions immeasurably since arriving this month as their third American point guard of the campaign.

The 27-year-old was influential in the clutch 86-82 win over the Perth Wildcats in Auckland on Sunday, the Breakers' fourth on the trot which lifted them from fifth to equal-second with Illawarra, ahead of Melbourne and Perth.

Less than two weeks ago the Auckland outfit were in last place on a congested league table.

Penney says every player has lifted a notch, seemingly infected by Dillard's effervescence after he replaced David Stockton.

"There's no doubt Kevin has made all of our jobs a little bit easier," Penney said.

"He has an ability to pass and an ability to score. Because of those two things, he takes a lot of pressure off other guys, and he's been a lot of fun to play with.

"He's been an awesome pick-up and we're all very thankful he's got a Breakers singlet on."

Penney is one player recovering his mojo in recent weeks, including a game-high 25 points.

Dillard contributed 20, along with four assists, only blotting his copybook with six turnovers in a worrying team tally of 24.

It allowed the Wildcats to quickly reduce their deficit rapidly in a stuttering final quarter.

Penney says Dillard shouldn't let that statistic worry him.

"Some of his turnovers were actually our fault, we weren't in the right positions. I was at fault for at least a couple."

The Breakers' remaining four games include a home game against seventh-placed Cairns on Thursday followed by a trip to face the Sydney Kings on Sunday.

Both of those teams are still in play-off contention.

"The nature of the season means that we still have so much more to do. It's anyone's, it really is," Penney said.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon