THERE was widespread shock around the Australian National Basketball League when Ayinde Ubaka was sacked by the Melbourne Tigers this week without the knowledge of coach Trevor Gleeson - but Daryl Corletto wasn't surprised in the slightest.
Ubaka was reportedly fired on the spot when owner Seamus McPeake gave the players a dressing room dressing-down after their 13-point loss to Gold Coast last weekend as Gleeson was addressing media in the post-match conference.
Corletto spent 10 years with Melbourne before being frozen out at the start of this season and said McPeake regularly abused the side for their apparent lack of effort.
"Seamus will do that twice a season when he will come into the training rooms and have a go at every single player in the squad," Corletto said. "It doesn't matter how you are playing, if he doesn't feel you are playing hard enough he will come in and let you know how he's feeling.
"I'm not quite sure what happened in the changing rooms but the word is Ubaka might have said something to him, like 'calm down, relax', which is the last thing you want to do to someone like Seamus. You have to take it on the chin and move on.
"It's disappointing. They have a great fanbase and good guys in that team. To hear what they are going through, having been there myself, is pretty tough. It's very sad someone can have so much power over the team, especially as he's not even coaching them. He told everyone at the start of the year Trevor would have the final say on the squad, it was his team.
"These things happen and Seamus is a fiery guy but, in saying that, there wouldn't be a Melbourne Tigers if it wasn't for Seamus so they have to stick with them and be grateful there is a team in Melbourne."
Breakers training has not been without incident, with Tom Abercrombie and Dillon Boucher squaring off today, and it provides a combustible backdrop to tonight's meeting of the two sides.
The Breakers beat the Tigers 90-79 in Melbourne a fortnight ago to snap a two-game losing streak, before their comfortable home defeat of Adelaide last Friday.
Corletto knows from experience Melbourne will come into the game with additional fire after Ubaka's sacking and former Breakers import Kevin Braswell could join them for the match. But Corletto said the aggression his teammates showed in training pointed to them being ready and discounted coach Andrej Lemanis' fears last week his players might relax before four consecutive home games.
"I don't think there's anything to worry about,'' he said. "We have been looking forward to these four home games for a while. We can't afford to drop any more games at home if we want to finish in the top two.
"We are definitely where we want to be. We are top two and three or four games clear [of Townsville in third]. I was amazed about a month ago when we had a meeting and evaluated where we were and we were 10-4 at that stage. For the last three years I have been 4-10 so I said to the guys that if we think we are under the pump because we have lost one or two games, teams that are 4-10 are really feeling the pressure.
"It's the time of year now to separate the men from the boys and if we win our next three or four games we will separate ourselves from everyone else in the league besides Perth."
Corletto's contract expires at the end of the season but Breakers management have signalled their intention to re-sign the shooting guard.
He wants to finish his long career in Auckland. Ubaka has little idea where he might end up.