News Article

Sam Mennenga: Breakers Buy Out Taipans Contract Bringing Kiwi Hotshot to Auckland

15 Mar
3 mins read
A player who went to school just five kilometres down the road from the Breakers’ training facility is returning home to fulfil a lifelong dream of playing for the club he supported as a boy.
Sam Mennenga joins the likes of Tom Abercrombie, Kirk Penney, Rob Loe and the Webster brothers as products from Westlake Boys High School who have gone to play professionally for the Breakers.
Since leaving school, the 206cm Power Forward has played two years of college basketball for Davidson in the States before appearing for the Cairns Taipans last season.
The Breakers have bought out the second year of Mennenga’s Taipans' contract so he can return home to Auckland.
Signing the 22-year-old also provides renewed evidence of the BNZ Breakers’ unwavering commitment to recruiting outstanding young New Zealand basketballers.
“The foundation of the Breakers is New Zealand basketball and we want to have the 'most fitting' kiwis wearing the Breakers’ jersey,” says Head Coach Mody Maor.
“It doesn’t mean we need a roster which is only comprised of New Zealand basketball players, but we try to pull out all stops to get kiwis we feel will add to our culture.”
Speaking from Greece where he is currently playing, Mennenga says he is linking up with the club he has supported all his life.
“Growing up, I’ve always been a Breakers supporter,” says Mennenga.
“My first memory of the Breakers is being at the North Shore Events Centre as an eight-year-old watching them play.
“The Breakers were on the same flight as me coming back from Brisbane 10 years ago and I sat and talked to players like Dillon Boucher.
“Being able to chat with them as a young kid inspired me to continue my basketball dream and that’s helped me along the way.”
In his rookie season for the Taipans, Mennenga made 27 appearances averaging 17 minutes, 6.9 points and 3.9 rebounds a game while shooting 47 percent from the field.
His standout performance was 22 points and 11 rebounds against top-of-the-table Melbourne United.
He also impressed in his professional debut against the Breakers at Spark Arena last September, hitting 17 points and making four rebounds.
At six foot nine in the old measurements, Mennenga weighs in at 109 kilos providing Maor with both bulk and versatility.
“Sam is a very typical modern big who can also play at Centre”, says the Breakers’ Head Coach.
“He can play inside and out.  He’s a good shooter; he’s also a very physical post-player.  He can put the ball on the floor and can also spot up and make decisions.  
“His ability to play two positions and do it in different ways is something we missed last season.”
Maor first encountered Mennenga four years ago when he came to train at the Breakers’ facility after New Zealand came out of its first COVID lockdown.
He says the new recruit is better for having a season for the Taipans and four appearances for the Tall Blacks under his belt.
“Sam fits into the same mould of Izayah Le’Afa and Finn Delany,” says Maor.
“The number one characteristic which stands out is the level of commitment he has to his craft; he loves the game, and his work ethic is off the charts.”
“I do work on improving myself,” says Mennenga.
“I’ve envisaged playing at Spark Arena for the Breakers all my life and I can’t wait for it.   
“Winning is the biggest goal for me in everything to do; I want to win.”
Mennenga is the Breakers’ first signing for next season joining Dane Pineau as the second player confirmed on the roster.
The full roster is expected to assemble in Auckland in early August.

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