The NZ Breakers have continued their pre-season buildup with the first of two NBAxNBL matches in Memphis, Tennessee.
They went down to NBA Memphis Grizzlies 108-94 today.
However, they displayed some signs they could be a title threat this year.
The New Zealand side let themselves down on attacking, shooting less than 40%, and only converting 103 of their 38 3-point attempts. They missed their first four shots of the game, which allowed the Grizzlies to race out to an early double-digit lead that the Breakers couldn't claw-back.
Corey Webster, who caught the eye of the Basketball world at this year's World Cup in China, finishing with the third-highest points per game average, again demonstrated his abilities today. He overcame some early jitters to lead all scorers in FedEx Forum recording 19 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists.
"It's kind of frustrating," he says of the early struggles, "but as a shooter, you've just got to keep going. You've got to stay confident in yourself and take your shots, and eventually, they'll start to fall."
High Profile recruit RJ Hampton, who is widely expected to be a top 5 pick at next years NBA Draft got his first taste of what NBA basketball would be. Despite only scoring 2 points in his 20 minutes, he was busy on the boards, picking up 6 rebounds. He's pleased he was able to contribute to the overall team effort and hopes to carry that on into the NBL season. "At the end of the day, it's not about me, it's about the NZ Breakers, and the main goal that we have, and that's the NBL Championship. I mean that's what we're really looking forward to."
The Breakers fought back in the 2nd half, cutting the lead to less than ten points. Captain Thomas Abercrombie rued their inability to keep the pressure on late into the match, "the thing about the NBA games is they're so long, that you've always got a chance to get your way back in.
"That's what we were able to do in the second half, momentum can change pretty quickly, we went on a really good run, got it back to single digits at one stage, just couldn't quite finish it off."
Abercrombie also believes their second-half display shows some pretty good signs as they continue their preparation for their NBL season opener against the Sydney Kings on Friday week.
The New Zealand Breakers have one more game in the USA, taking on Steven Adams' Oklahoma City Thunder this Friday (NZT).