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New Breakers guard hailed by Penney

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 2/09/2016 Daniel Gilhooly

For an insight into the speed of thought of new NZ Breakers guard Ben Woodside, teammate Kirk Penney recounts a recent long-haul flight the pair shared.

Woodside sat in economy class while New Zealand veteran Penney enjoyed the next class up.

He was soon joined by the American for a chat.

"He didn't move the rest of the flight," Penney said.

"He's smart. He's a good point guard, he figures out where the opportunities are."

Tall Blacks great Penney, 35, and accomplished European-based guard Woodside, 31, linked up this week at the Auckland NBL club where they are expected to be highly influential.

Penney led the Breakers to their maiden title before a four-season stint ended in 2011, taking him to Europe.

He played a season each in Turkey and Spain alongside Woodside and recommended him when Breakers management began the search to replace the outstanding Cedric Jackson.

Penney has no doubt they made the right call.

"Ben plays really hard at both ends of the floor and he's a smart basketball player.

"And a really good leader, really vocal. He should lead the boys around the court really well."

Minnesota native Woodside says he is looking forward to extending his relationship with Penney, which he describes as close, both on and off the court.

A handful of days after arriving in Auckland, Woodside says he is already impressed by the chemistry created by Paul Henare, who has been promoted to head coach in place of the departed Dean Vickerman.

Prolific scorer Penney, who has signed a three-season contract, says a tight culture was something he could guarantee to Woodside.

"It's nice coming back to a team where you've played alongside some of the guys for 10 years, and some of the coaching staff," he said.

"There's such familiarity and there's only one club in the world that could ever offer that to me."

Penney, who played for the Illawarra Hawks last season, predicts the four-time champions can be in the title mix this year but notes the strength of a number of other teams.

That includes the reinstated Brisbane Bullets, who they host for three pre-season games this month.

"On paper, there's some outstanding teams. Whoever can bond together and really find themselves as a team is probably going to be the one at the top come the end of the season."

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