NZ Breakers coach Paul Henare defends decision to blood youth in loss to Illawarra Hawks

The Breakers blew an 11-point lead in the final three minutes of their loss.
The Breakers blew an 11-point lead in the final three minutes of their loss. Photo credit: Photosport

Breaker coach Paul Henare has no regrets blooding his young players late in the fourth quarter during his sides 84-82 loss to the Illawarra Hawks in Auckland on Friday.

With the Breakers leading by 11 points in the final three minutes, Henare opted to let his less experienced players finish out the game in a move which ultimately backfired.

Hawks guard Mitch Norton banked home a long-range three-pointer at the death to stun the Auckland crowd.

Speaking to media after the match, Henare admitted he was angry his team couldn't defend the lead and suffered a third successive loss but admitted he had no regrets about leaving his star players on the bench.

"It's a great learning experience for all those guys who were on that floor," he said.

"It's taken me a while to calm down after losing that game. We shouldn't have lost that game.

"But results for this game were secondary to getting through this weekend healthy, providing opportunities for [Delany], Shea Ili, Jordan Ngatai, to play extended minutes."

"There may be a time in the playoffs when we need them, and then we expect them to go close out a game without going through that type of experience? Then I would have a regret for sure."

The loss ensured the fourth-placed Breakers (15-12) won't have home advantage in the semi-finals and will likely face Melbourne United in their first-round finals match.

The Breakers now head to Sydney to face the Kings (10-17) in their final regular season match.

Shooting guard Kirk Penney (calf) and Alex Pledger (ribs) missed the match against the Hawks and it is not known if they will make the trip to Sydney.

It is also unknown if Thomas Abercrombie will be on the plane to Australia with his wife due to give birth any day now.