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Pledger overcomes mind block for Breakers

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/12/2016

Alex Pledger has always had the frame to dominate under the basket for the New Zealand Breakers.

But it took a mental rev-up to produce one of his best NBL displays in their grinding 69-57 win over the Perth Wildcats.

The 2.15m centre pulled off a career-high six blocks, mixed with nine rebounds and 16 points to be the central figure in a bristling Breakers defensive effort.

Pledger says his coaches and team-mates have implored him in recent weeks to attempt more blocks.

He has previously been worried about conceding fouls or leaving gaps for the opposition to exploit under the hoop.

"At times I can be kind of tentative," he said.

"You can't run around like a headless chicken trying to block everything but now I'm using my length to my advantage and having confidence that if I leave my man to challenge a shot, somebody will have my back."

Coach Paul Henare was delighted with Pledger's response to adversity, having recently been demoted to a bench role behind fellow-Tall Black Rob Loe.

Henare described the team rebounding performance as the best in recent memory against a Wildcats side who caned them on the backboards earlier this season in Perth.

After losing five of their six previous games, the Breakers were desperate to go into Christmas with a win under their belt.

They don't play again until a trip to Sydney on December 30.

Henare hopes they can have found a new import by then to replace guard Corey Webster, who has been placed on an injury waiver for possibly the rest of the season.

"It's an awkward time of year. There's not a lot of guys out there that are available - well, within our budget anyway," Henare said.

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