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Henare demands better from 'soft' Breakers

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 27/11/2016

<span style="font-size:13px;">A soft start and a dumb finish were highlighted by unhappy NZ Breakers coach Paul Henare following their 91-80 loss to the Cairns Taipans.</span> © Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images A soft start and a dumb finish were highlighted by unhappy NZ Breakers coach Paul Henare following their 91-80 loss to the Cairns Taipans. New Zealand Breakers coach Paul Henare has delivered a stinging critique of his team, lamenting a "soft" defensive effort in losing to the Cairns Taipans.

The 91-80 defeat in Cairns also featured a lack of smarts in the closing stages, Henare said, after his team fought back from 53-38 down at halftime.

However, he believes the major damage was inflicted early on when the Taipans dominated the physical exchanges.

"Our defence was soft, we gave up too many early baskets and we didn't get our coverage right.

"We dug ourselves a hole in the first half and any time you do that on the road, it takes so much more energy to get back in the game."

A second-straight loss drops the Breakers to fifth behind the Illawarra Hawks, who share the same 6-6 record.

Cairns (5-6) are sixth after withstanding the Breakers' second-half surge, led by 18 points to Kirk Penney and 16 to Akil Mitchell.

After closing to within two points midway through the final quarter, Henare says their on-court thinking was substandard.

"I trust our group that when it gets tight, we're going to make good decisions down the stretch. But I think we fell well short of that."

Henare says turnovers have been a "chronic problem" all season.

The 20 against Cairns was the catalyst for guard Travis Trice scoring 31 points.

The Breakers face a crucial week, at home to the Hawks on Friday and away to Melbourne United on Sunday, with all three teams sitting just outside the top four.

Henare noted that lower-ranked teams on the table had upset higher-placed sides in every game so far in round eight.

"It's challenging, you can't take a breath. If you take a casual mindset in, you're going to lose," he said.

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