Breakers aim to dismantle NBL-leading Melbourne for top two finish - 'Home advantage in this league is big'

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NZN

The Breakers have already wrapped up an Australian NBL finals spot but are aiming higher ahead of Friday's trip to top dogs Melbourne United.

The NZ team have already secured a play-off spot in the NBL.
Source: 1 NEWS

Back-to-back wins over the Illawarra Hawks last week guaranteed a top-four berth for the Kiwis, who will play their eighth ANBL finals series in 11 years.

Coach Paul Henare said he was pleased to see his side play finals basketball once again, having missed out by a whisker in 2016-17.

But pushing towards a top-two finish - and a home semi-final - was a priority against United, who sit on top of the ANBL ladder.

They'll then face off in a return fixture in Auckland on Sunday.

"It's an unusual luxury for us to have, to shift the focus not so much on the final placings but on a big series against Melbourne this weekend," Henare said.

"How that plays out will probably define whether we have a shot at the top two or not - home advantage in this league is big.

"It's a tough challenge but one we're looking to do well in."

The Breakers have had the wood over United lately, winning 10 of their last 11 meet-ups, and are the only team to avoid defeat against Melbourne this year.

They won their most previous match 98-81 in January.

But with Melbourne riding high at the top of the ANBL and on a three-game winning run, Henare said he was on red alert.

Two wins against United could propel his side to first place.

"You don't need to address the table and who is where going into a game like this - their results speak for themselves," Henare said.

On the injury front, the Breakers are looking in good shape, while Melbourne may bring star import Casey Prather back into the fold after injury.

Prather has been a long-term absence with a dislocated elbow.

For the New Zealanders, import DJ Newbill, as well as young gun Shea Ili and stalwart Tom Abercrombie, have all hit form at the right time.

"It's all about continuing to build," Henare said.

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