Basketball: NZ Breakers have faith in next-man-up mentality, after season-ending injury to import Anthony Lamb

American Anthony Lamb has been ruled out of NZ Breakers' desperate ANBL playoff bid, but coach Mody Maor is putting faith in the rest of his roster stepping up to cover for their injured teammate.

Lamb's All Star-calibre season ended, when he collapsed oncourt against Perth Wildcats, leaving his team to scratch out a much-needed victory to preserve their mathematical chance of reaching the post-season.

Subsequent scans have confirmed the worst - an Achilles tendon tear that promises a long recovery for the outstanding forward.

Anthony Lamb injured against Perth Wildcats.
Anthony Lamb injured against Perth Wildcats. Photo credit: Getty Images

"We're going down the route of surgery and recovery," explained Maor. "We're all a little bit heartbroken for Anthony.

"This is the first time he's stepped outside the US to play. He obviously played very well and there were a lot of great options ahead of him, but in today's basketball, this is not the end of anything.

"He will go through a nice rehab for nine months and come back on the other side a better player. I'm sure he's going to do great."

Lamb joined the Breakers in October, as an injury replacement for American Justanian Jessup. After spending a full NBA season with Golden State Warriors in 2022/23, he quickly established himself as one of the Aussie league's best performers, averaging 19.4 points and six rebounds a game. 

Many commentators had him among their contenders for Most Valuable Player honours.

With no replacement on the horizon, Maor must make do with what he already has, with little margin for error in the remaining four games of the regular season, probably needing at least three wins to secure a playoff spot.

With the return of Tall Blacks forward Finn Delaney in Perth, he had his full squad available for just eight minutes of the season, but must now continue to adjust for absent friends.

"Honestly, it's OK," he insisted. "Because it's only been eight minutes we've had everybody, we're kind of used to this.

"You could see it in the game. Last time, when we lost a player in the middle of the game, we stopped playing the right way and it really affected us.

"The moment Anthony got hurt and went to the bench, we knew it was serious, but we just kept on doing our job, playing our way, which gives me a lot of confidence going into the next games."

The Breakers' next challenge comes on Friday against Illawarra Hawks, against whom they have already suffered two four-point defeats this season.

The Hawks (12-12) and Breakers (11-13) are two of six teams competing for the last three post-season positions. 

Anthony Lamb in action for the Breakers.
Anthony Lamb in action for the Breakers. Photo credit: Photosport

"I'm confident we will put our best foot forward," said Maor. "We'll do things to the best of our ability.

"I believe, with the roster we have now, if we play at our best, we can beat anyone.

"There's no-one who can step in and do the things Anthony did - he was a focal point for us on offence, he was a creator in very unique and special ways. There's nobody who does this, but there are a lot of very talented players on this team who can do other things.

"Nobody's going to step into the vacuum Anthony leaves, it's just us doing things the way we do regardless."