THE Hawks chances of beating New Zealand on the road on Friday have received a boost with Breakers sharp-shooter Corey Webster to miss the match after being charged with assault.
Auckland police were called to reports of a fight at The Takapuna Bar about 12.30am Wednesday morning and subsequently charged Webster who was out celebrating his 28th birthday. He was granted bail to appear in court on Monday, a day after the Breakers away clash with Melbourne United at Hisense Arena.
In a statement, Breakers general manager Dillon Boucher indicated Webster will defend the charge but confirmed he will miss Friday’s game against Illawarra.
“I would like to stress that Corey maintains his innocence of the charge and will defend himself vigorously through the court process,” Boucher said.
“However, the club has found reason to suspend Corey for his actions, not for the charge alleged by the police that he maintains his innocence from but in his breach of our team and club values.
“Specifically this refers to decisions made around how best to recover from a road trip last weekend and at the same time prepare for our next game on Friday against Illawarra. Being out until after midnight is not in the best interests of the team. Corey has also breached our values in the way in which he has communicated with the club about the incident on Tuesday night.”
Webster was already in doubt for Friday’s showdown after being cited by the league’s match review panel for making “medium impact” contact to the face of Cairns import Travis Trice in the Breakers 91-80 loss last Sunday. Webster took the early plea and copped a $500 fine and would have been free to play against Illawarra were it not for the assault charge.
Webster was instrumental in the Breakers home win against Illawarra in Auckland two weeks ago, finishing with 14 in a 100-85 win.
Webster’s absence will likely see David Stockton make his first NBL start since dropping 17 points and five assists on the Hawks from the bench in an impressive debut two weeks ago.
The Breakers were capably shut down in the return clash in Wollongong less than 48 hours later and will head into Friday’s game staring down the barrel of three straight losses.
A win in Auckland would be huge for the Hawks who would go to 7-6 for the season and take a 2-1 series lead with the fourth match to be played on Wollongong.