THE NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS have been give a rapturous welcome home after capturing their third consecutive Australian NBL title.
Hundreds of fans turned up to a victory party at Sky City, many of whom waited early into Sunday morning for the championship-winning team to arrive back to Auckland airport.
The Breakers secured a hat-trick of ANBL titles with their 70-66 win over the Perth Wildcats in game two of the finals series on Friday night.
Speaking among a throng of fans, coach Andrej Lemanis told The New Zealand Herald that the team had created a legacy.
“One of the really pleasing aspects of this success that we’ve had is seeing the growth in basketball, and the interest in basketball – all our junior development programmes that we’ve had running out at the Breakers, they’re full.
“We need more court space. I know that basketball is booming around the country. And that’s a great outcome of what we’ve achieved.”
The Breakers have a great rivalry with the Wildcats, defeating them in post-season on the way to each of their three titles, but struggled against them in the regular season this campaign.
“Everyone talks about that like it’s the end of the world,” CJ Bruton said.
“As a group we talked about it…our coach cracked the whip, but we also knew what we had, and we waited to see our true colours.
“We won the title, Cedric [Jackson] holds up the medallion MVP, Dillon [Boucher] is retiring and he’s got the big trophy, it’s a great sendoff.”
Earlier in the day, Boucher, Tom Abercrombie and assistant coach Dean Vickerman recieved special treatment by being taken by helicopter and paraded in front of fans at the V8 Supercars at Pukekohe.
“We flew in in a chopper, so I couldn’t be happier right now,” said the retiring Boucher.
“The royalty treatment is always good for a couple of days and then it’s back to reality.”
Auckland Mayor Len Brown said yesterday that the council would work with the Breakers to consider how best to celebrate the victory.