Breakers captain Tom Abercrombie is ready to get back on the court after six weeks out due to a torn retina which required having an air bubble inserted in his left eye to help recovery.
Abercrombie said the injury could’ve been much worse.
“The tear was close to reaching the centre of my field of vision.”
“There’s no guarantee what kind of vision you’ll get back after surgery so I was lucky it didn’t reach that and I was able to get home and get the surgery straight away. I’m just happy to be back,” Abercrombie said.
He returns to a team that is in the best form in years, surging to the top of the NBL ladder for the first time in five seasons.
“It’s a team that plays together. We enjoy each other off the court and on the court. The chemistry is evident right now and guys have each other’s back,” Abercrombie said.
After two years based in Australia due to Covid, being at home has made a huge difference to the team’s success.
But the Breakers also understand that it’s going to take some time before the stadiums are full again.
“We understand that we have to rebuild that trust and fanbase. We’ve been away for a long time and we wanted to build a team and culture that was endearing to New Zealanders. Built on scrappiness, toughness and hard work. I think that you’re starting to see that come out in the team now and I think people are starting to appreciate that too,” Abercrombie said.
After only three out of eight home games to start the season and six matches in the last 15 days, Abercrombie said he’s pleased with the way his team has handled it.
“We knew it was going to be incredibly tough. We were going to have a lot of travel and back to backs. Guys were going to have to play when they were tired and fatigued and the way that these guys have taken on that challenge has been awesome.”
Coach Mody Maor is looking forward to seeing his veteran small forward return to the court.
“I’m really happy for him to play at Spark. Everybody knows what Tom brings to the floor. As a leader, as a defender and as an offensive player. He doesn’t need to come in and save the world. He just needs to come in and be himself, we love him just the way he is,” Maor said.
On Sunday, the Breakers will face the Sydney Kings at Spark who they are tied with at top spot.
Abercrombie said they’ll be looking to bring the defensive intensity – something they’re the best at in the NBL, holding opponents to an average of 75 points a game.
“Our identity that we’ve started to build on the defensive end gives you a chance to win games. When you’re not quite on your game as you saw in Cairns, we weren’t playing great basketball by any stretch but defensively we give ourselves a chance if we’re able to lock down,” Abercrombie said.
Maor echoed a similar sentiment and added that there’s still work to be done.
“There’s been areas where we have been very dominant on the defensive side and there’s a lot more for us to be better at.”
After two years of struggle and perseverance, the Breakers can now see the light.