Christmas arrives late for NZ

NBL high-flyers New Zealand Breakers have bolstered their squad ahead of Saturday’s away clash against the Illawarra Hawks by adding former NBA big-man Rakeem Christmas.

INCOMING: New Zealand Breakers import Rakeem Christmas (25) will suit up for the first time when they face the Illawarra Hawks. Picture: AP Photo/John Raoux

INCOMING: New Zealand Breakers import Rakeem Christmas (25) will suit up for the first time when they face the Illawarra Hawks. Picture: AP Photo/John Raoux

The former Indiana Pacers talent arrived in New Zealand on Monday and is expected to hit the court for the first team when the Breakers travel to Wollongong this weekend. 

Christmas will fill New Zealand’s final import spot.

His arrival sees Shoalhaven junior James Hunter, who has barely played this season, cut from the Breakers roster.

"We always had that spot up our sleeves, probably more as injury cover for our local spots," Breakers coach Paul Henare said.

"But we feel we need an injection to our group, someone who can provide a presence for us at both ends of the floor, fit in and complement the group we have."

Christmas, 26, will undoubtedly a high degree of talent to the Breakers squad, who still have four matches to play against the Hawks.

He played four years at Syracuse University before eventually landing at the Pacers after the NBA draft.

“He has flirted with the NBA and he brings legitimate shot blocking at the defensive end and protects the rim,” Henare said.

“On the offensive end, while he shows some touches around the free throw line, he provides some real athleticism and a target at the rim, which we want to utilise with the shooters we have on the floor."

Christmas most recently had a stint with Turkish club Galatasaray

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