NZ Breakers coach Mody Maor hints he's open to bringing in replacement players, as his team's Australian NBL hopes begin to dwindle - but that's not up to him.

The Auckland-based side have slumped to their seventh defeat in 10 games to start the new season, falling 69-65 to competition cellardwellers Illawarra Hawks at Vector Arena.

Leading by four points in the final quarter, the Breakers were still on level terms inside the final moment, but missed a defensive boxout on American Gary Clark, who rebounded a missed shot and slammed home the crucial basket in a lowscoring contest.

Maor was left lamenting a woeful offensive effort that saw his understrength team shoot just 32 percent from the field.

"I can't fault the effort," he said. "The guys competed and defended a talented offensive team pretty well, but gave up an offensive rebound that we're going to remember for a while. 

"Our offence was very, very stagnant."

The result comes just days after a moraleboosting road win over Tasmania JackJumpers, but losing the services of Aussie guard Will McDowell-White with a broken foot in the process.

A key contributor to the Breakers' grand final run last season, McDowell-White joins injured American power forward Zylan Cheatham on the sidelines, while Lithuanian 'Next Star' performer Mantas Rabstavicius was also missing from a rotation that saw only three players used off the bench.

While the club had hoped to ride out Cheatham's absence and still stay competitive on the table, the latest setback may have forced its hand to look for replacements, at least for the short term.

"We're back on the wheel, the same wheel I've been on since the beginning of the season," lamented Maor. "Find a way to play, get the team to do it, lose a key player... need to re-invent the wheel again.     

"This is where we are now. Will's going to be out for a significant amount of time and we have 10 days until our next game to find a way to play together as a team.

"Obviously, it will need to be different in certain ways and that's the only thing I'm thinking of at the moment."

McDowell-White's absence puts greater responsibility on Tall Blacks guard Izaya Le'efa to step into the void, but he was the defender that allowed Clark unchecked along the baseline for the Hawks' go-ahead basket.

Another to step up was sharpshooter Cam Gliddon, who went 3/4 from the arc for 10 points in 15 minutes off the bench.

Asked about possible replacements, Maor shrugged: "I don't know."

That decision rests with club management and ownership, and would create a potential logjam of players, when Cheatham and McDowell-White return.

The Breakers have already replaced injured American Justinian Jessup with former NBA performer Anthony Lamb, who has emerged as the team's best player, topscoring with 24 points against Tasmania.

The ANBL is now idle until November 20, when the Breakers host Adelaide 36ers at Christchurch's Wolfbrook Arena.

2023-11-19T19:08:13Z dg43tfdfdgfd