'It was best for me to go' – Reformed Corey Webster leaving troubled past behind in second Breakers stint

Corey Webster is back at the Breakers and ready to prove he's grown up.

Webster's returned to his home club after more than a year away in Perth, Israel and China and while he's got the same scintillating skills, there's something new about him.

After going out of his comfort zone overseas, the 29-year-old is adamant he's learned from his mistakes and ready to lead by example.

"I had some personal things to work on and I think it was best for me to go away at that time and work on myself as a person and my game and I think I've come back better than ever."

He’s now determined on proving just that.

Webster's off-court indiscretions, including his discharge without conviction in an assault case last year, have been well publicised but he's put those firmly in the past.

The guard says his move overseas helped him do move forward.

"It was just something that I had to do.

"This is my life. Basketball is my life and I'm a professional and it's something that had to be done."

Webster and the Breakers begin their season next month at Spark Arena when they host the Brisbane Bullets on Thursday 11 October.



Breakers sign former NBA big man Shawn Long with final import slot

The New Zealand Breakers have been quick to re-fill their final NBL import slot by signing American Shawn Long.

Versatile big man Long replaces compatriot Jerrelle Benimon, who was released from his contract two days ago.

Specialist centre Benimon never arrived in Auckland, having requested a release for personal reasons.

Long, 25, had a brief stint in the NBA with Philadelphia two years ago.

"I had a number of options on the table but after speaking to the Breakers I felt as though they'd provide the best situation for me to improve all around as a player, but most importantly a chance to win a championship," Long said.

"I look forward to making the best of it and filling whatever role the team needs."

The former University of Louisiana player has been most prominent as a scorer in the NBA reserve leagues in recent years.

Long will join the Breakers ahead of this month's NBL Blitz and the October 3 pre-season game against the Phoenix Suns in Arizona.

Philadelphia 76er Shawn Long.
Philadelphia 76er Shawn Long. Source: Getty


NBL expansion team to be located in Melbourne, join competition in 2019

The NBL has confirmed that the ninth team in the competition will be based in south east Melbourne.

The yet to be named franchise will play games at Melbourne Arena starting in the 2019/20 season.

"This is an exciting moment for the NBL as we announce a second team in Melbourne," NBL chief executive Jeremy Loeliger said on Sunday.

The NBL announced in July that Romie Chaudhari, co-owner of English Championship soccer team Swansea City, had been awarded a licence.

"We said when we granted the licence for a ninth team that its location would depend on having access to first class training, administrative and playing facilities," Loeliger said.

"The investment in the State Basketball Centre and Melbourne Arena makes south east Melbourne the ideal location for the next NBL team."

A deal has been agreed to move the Australian Basketball Centre of Excellence from Canberra to Melbourne's south east - with the Victorian Government on Sunday committing $82 million funding for expansion of the State Basketball Centre if re-elected and Knox City Council promising $25 million to the expansion project.

The Victorian Government will also add a further $13 million to upgrade Melbourne Arena if re-elected.

The newest NBL team will be based at the State Basketball Centre and play two regular season games there each season once the planned expansion has been completed.

"We are delighted to have chosen south east Melbourne as the location for our club," Tommy Greer, general manager of the team, said.

Rob Loe
Rob Loe Source: Photosport


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Webster, Abercrombie to miss next round of World Cup qualifying as Tall Blacks name experienced squad

The Tall Blacks have named an experienced squad for the next phase of World Cup qualifying but will be without proven veterans Corey Webster and Tom Abercrombie.

Abercrombie hasn't been considered due to a hamstring injury he sustained while training for the Breakers this week while Webster has been given time off due to personal issues.

The star shooting guard has only just returned to New Zealand after playing in China and has been given a break to settle back in and prepare for the upcoming NBL season with the Breakers.

As a result, Ethan Rusbatch and Dion Prewster have been called into the squad which will be led by Mika Vukona.

The team also has the talents of overseas-based players such as Isaac Fotu and Tai Webster at their disposal.

Coach Paul Henare said the team is looking to send a message in the next round of qualifying after passing the first round with a record of five wins and one loss.

"We will not take anything for granted, that is a recipe for disaster. The fact is we are not yet qualified and must continue to pick up wins to keep pace at the top of the group.

"We know how tough these road trips are going to be and the hurdles we will have to overcome, we cannot and will not let our guard down for one moment.”

The will play Syria, Lebanon and Jordan twice over the next six months with the top three teams in the group qualifying for the World Cup in China next year.

Tall Blacks

Guards: Shea Ili, Breakers; Jarrod Kenny, Cairns Taipans; Ethan Rusbatch, Bay Hawks; Tai Webster, Galatasaray (Turkey);

Forwards: Reuben Te Rangi, Brisbane Bullets; Dion Prewster, Bay Hawks; Jordan Ngatai, Breakers; Isaac Fotu, Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany); Finn Delany, Breakers; Mika Vukona, Brisbane Bullets;

Centres: Rob Loe, Cairns Taipans; Tohi Smith-Milner, Melbourne United

Finn Delany, Tall Blacks in action during the FIBA Asia Cup 8-20 August 2017 in Lebanon. Photo: FIBA
Finn Delany, Tall Blacks in action during the FIBA Asia Cup. Source: Photosport


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San Antonio Spurs legend Manu Ginobili retires from the NBA after sixteen seasons with the one team

Manu Ginobili has played his final game, and with that a new era awaits the San Antonio Spurs.

Ginobili announced his decision to retire Monday, the 41-year-old wrapping up what he called a "fabulous journey" in which he helped the Spurs win four NBA championships in 16 seasons with the club.

The smooth left-handed guard from Argentina came to San Antonio in 2002, forming what quickly became a powerful "Big 3" alongside Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. Now, they've all moved on: Duncan retired two years ago, Parker left San Antonio earlier this summer as a free agent to sign with the Charlotte Hornets, and Ginobili has worn Spurs colours for the last time as well.

"Today, with a wide range of feelings, I'm announcing my retirement from basketball," Ginobili wrote on Twitter in making the announcement. "IMMENSE GRATITUDE to everyone (family, friends, teammates, coaches, staff, fans) involved in my life in the last 23 years. It's been a fabulous journey. Way beyond my wildest dreams."

The image Ginobili chose to accompany that tweet: A photo of him walking off the floor, away from the camera, with four fingers aloft - signifying his four titles.

"An NBA champion and All-Star, Manu Ginobili is also a pioneer who helped globalize the NBA," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. "He is one of basketball's greatest ambassadors who believes in the power of sports to change lives. And for 16 years, we were fortunate to watch a legend compete at the highest level. Thank you, Manu, for a career that inspired millions of people around the world."

Ginobili's pro career lasted 23 seasons in all, starting with stints in Italy and Argentina. His drawing power was massive even in his final season, and it was common for him to spend plenty of time before road games posing for photos and signing autographs - often international fans proudly displaying an Argentine flag.

"A role model for all of us that love this wonderful sport," Spurs forward Pau Gasol said.

Duncan, Parker, Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard were the backbone of San Antonio's drive to its most recent NBA championship in 2014, and this will be the first time that Gregg Popovich begins a season as the Spurs' head coach with none of those players on the roster. Leonard was traded to the Toronto Raptors for DeMar DeRozan earlier this summer, the end of a relationship in San Antonio that had apparently gone too sour to save.

Leonard's departure meant Ginobili would have been the last significant player tied to the Spurs' title years. But in the end, retirement was his call.

"Great player. Fierce competitor. Winner," Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki said on Twitter. "Next stop: HOF."

Indeed, getting enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame would seem like a certainty for Ginobili. The No. 57 pick in the 1999 draft, Ginobili averaged 13.3 points and 3.8 assists in 1,057 regular-season games. He was a two-time All-Star and was the league's Sixth Man of the Year for the 2007-08 season (getting 123 of 124 votes), plus he teamed with Popovich for 135 playoff wins - the third-highest total for any player-coach combo in NBA history.

The only two with more? Popovich and Duncan won 157, and Popovich and Parker won 137.

"Thanks for all you did for the game gramps," Spurs forward Rudy Gay tweeted, poking fun at Ginobili's age. Gay's sentiment was shared by many in the NBA, and the Spurs quickly put up a page of on- and off-the-court highlights that bore the simplest of messages: "Gracias, Manu."

Ginobili, even though he was often coming off the bench, has a resume of postseason production like almost no one else. Only two players have more than 800 rebounds, 800 assists and 300 3-pointers in their playoff careers - Ginobili and LeBron James.

"Thank you for what you have done for your fellow lefties and a bringing an unmatched level of creativity to the game," Atlanta's Kent Bazemore wrote to Ginobili in a tweet. "Much respect."

Ginobili's final game was April 24, when the Spurs were ousted from the Western Conference playoffs by the eventual champion Golden State Warriors. San Antonio lost the series 4-1.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr was once a teammate of Ginobili's in San Antonio. And as Golden State celebrated moving on to the second round, Kerr offered Ginobili a sales pitch.

"Keep going, OK? Why not?" Kerr told Ginobili that day at Oracle Arena as they shared an embrace. "Hey, we met Roger Federer this year in China. I said 'Why do you keep playing?' He said 'I love it.' If you love it, keep going."

Moments later, Ginobili left an NBA court as a player for the last time.

FILE - In this April 1, 2018, file photo, San Antonio Spurs' Manu Ginobili (20) drives around Houston Rockets' Eric Gordon during the second half of an NBA basketball game, in San Antonio.  Ginobili retired at age 41 Monday after a "fabulous journey" in which he helped the San Antonio Spurs win four NBA championships in 16 seasons with the club. (AP Photo/Darren Abate, File)
Manu Ginobili. Source: Associated Press


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