Delany headlines new-look Breakers roster
Adelaide 36ers start their NBL Blitz campaign against NBL23 grand finalist New Zealand Breakers on the Gold Coast on Sunday afternoon.
The 36ers will be keen to rebound after last Saturday’s 103-78 pre-season loss to Brisbane Bullets at The Lights Community Centre and head coach CJ Bruton expects his side to respond.
“It’s the pre-season, we have been working on a lot of different looks and this week is no exception,” Bruton said.
“Brisbane showed us some key areas we need to work on, which is what pre-season is all about.”
Adelaide will be taking a full roster to the Gold Coast, with Sunday Dech back from FIBA World Cup duties with South Sudan.
One of the big signings of the NBL24 off-season was the return of power forward Finn Delany to the Breakers.
Delany’s signing came from left-field after he walked out on the club just over 12 months earlier after two crushing COVID-affected seasons based in Australia.
“Finn wanting to return to the Breakers is the highlight of my off-season,” Breakers head coach Mody Maor said.
After a tremendous campaign in Europe, winning the FBA Basketball Champions League for Baskets Bonn in Germany, Delany signed a two-year deal.
“Finn chose to join the Breakers after his phenomenal season in Germany because he wanted to part of what he saw from afar last season.”
Along with Delany, the Breakers also signed another returning NBL star man in sharpshooting guard Justinian Jessup.
Jessup, who the Golden State Warriors picked in the 2020 NBA draft fills the Breakers’ final import spot after playing 68 games for the Illawarra Hawks as an NBL Next Star.
At the Hawks, Jessup averaged 13.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.7 assists over two seasons, with a career-best 29 points against Brisbane Bullets.
“Justinian has elite shooting skills, but I’ve always thought there was a lot more to him,” Maor said.
“We believe he can become a much more complete player at the Breakers. We believe he can take another step towards being a playmaker and creator and not just be pegged as a shooter. Justinian feels the same way.”
Zylan Cheatham arrived in Auckland during the off-season with Euro League experience after a season playing for Bayern Munich in Germany’s Bundesliga.
After only six Euro League appearances in 2023, he made a huge impact off the bench, averaging 11.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists in just over half a game on court.
The power forward, who has also had stints at the New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz, has a number of qualities Moar wants in a Breakers import.
“Zylan plays with a special level of intensity and effort,” Moar said.
“What makes Zylan special is that those traits come together with elite athleticism, high-level court vision and the ability to play both on the perimeter and in the paint.”
Moar has the ability to start both Cheatham and Delany at the power forward and centre, but also has the luxury of having big Mangok Mathiang on his roster, as well as Dane Pineau.
“I’m sure we have signed another fan favourite in Zylan, and I’m looking forward to working alongside him as we both share the same collective goal in our desire to win,” Maor said.
PG: Jackson-Cartwright / McNaught / McDowell-White (inj)
SG: Le’Afa / Gliddon
SF: Jessup / Rubstavicius / Abercrombie / Fotu / Davison
PF: Cheatham / Delany / Darling / Kelman-Poto (NRP)
C: Mathiang / Pineau
THE FINAL WORD
Breakers point guard Will McDowell-White was arguably the hottest commodity during free agency leading into the NBL24 season.
The 25-year-old chose to stay in New Zealand after getting offers from all over the league and McDowell-White will again play a pivotal role in the Breakers’ offense.
But the 196cm point guard won’t take any part in the NBL Blitz and could miss the start of the regular season after breaking his hand last week at training.
“Keeping Will in a Breakers shirt for another couple of seasons was our biggest goal this off-season,” Breakers head coach Mody Maor said.
“He was a scorching-hot commodity in the open market, with several suitors and many great teams in the league willing to fork out a lot of cash for Will's services.”
With McDowell-White missing, there will be extra attention on new Breakers import guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright.
The 175cm dynamo is a former Bundesliga MVP and he will carry the bulk of the ball carrying duties on Sunday afternoon.
Maor believes if the 28-year-old Californian’s numbers are anything to go by, he just may have the chance to go straight to the top of the best guard imports in Breakers history.