Basketball: NZ Breakers will return stronger after ANBL finals heartbreak to Sydney Kings, vows coach Mody Maor

In the moments after a heartbreaking 77-69 defeat to Sydney Kings, that sealed an ANBL finals series defeat, NZ Breakers coach Mody Maor assures that the heartbreak of defeat will be used as motivation for another push for glory in 2024.

After fighting back to send the finals series decider, the Breakers fell short at the final hurdle, and went down for a 3-2 defeat to the Kings - now back-to-back Australian champions.

The defeat leaves the Breakers without that cherry on the cake, after their resurgence under Maor in the 2022/23 season.

Mody Maor with the Breakers.
Mody Maor with the Breakers. Photo credit: Getty Images

The Kiwi side finished dead last in the ANBL last season, but rebounded in style to come within one game of being crowned champions for a fifth time.

Instead, those thoughts will have to wait another year at least.

Things could have been so much different for the Breakers though, who at 56-all heading into the last quarter let in 14 unanswered points to ultimately end up on the wrong side of the scoreline.

While the anguish was clear to see on the face of Maor, and owner Matt Walsh, post-match, the coach - who's only been at the helm for one season - knows there is still plenty to come from his side moving forward.

"I'm honestly very disappointed," said Maor. "This hurts deeply. I really felt that this team could have gotten it across the line.

"We didn't play well enough in the last quarter to do that.

"I'm not going to run away from how much this hurts. Me individually and us as an organisation are going to use this as fuel to come back better next season."

When the Breakers do return to the court for the ANBL's 2023/24 season, they'll hopefully do it with the unprecedented levels of support they saw over this now-concluded finals series.

Last Sunday, in game four, close to 10,000 fans packed into Spark Arena to watch an 80-70 victory - the largest crowd in the history of basketball in New Zealand.

After years stuck playing in Australia due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, Maor's wish was for his side to win back their home fans this year, a feat they achieved by every metric.

But with 2022/23 now done and dusted, Maor knows it's up to the Breakers to continue to give their fans reason to turn out in record numbers, as often as they can.

"One of the things I said at the beginning of this year is that everybody was talking about how great it is we're back home," Maor continued. 

"I didn't feel it was cause for celebration. The sense that it gave me was a sense of responsibility.

"We wanted this team to play in a way, conduct itself in a way that our fanbase, Kiwis, feel proud of. It resonates with them, they want to be part of it.

"Over the last month, there were few instances where it was really clear that we achieved that goal.

"I'm very proud of it. But now it's on us to do it again, hopefully we sell out from game one."