Ezrah Aukuso-Vaigafa believes two of his strengths on a basketball court are “making everyone around me better by getting them involved and just being vocal.” The Rongotai College and New Zealand Under-17 point guard has plenty to talk about at present. Last week at the National Under-17 championships, Aukuso-Vaigafa was named tournament MVP as Wellington captured the title in a thrilling decider against Auckland.
Earlier in the month, Aukuso-Vaigafa returned from the FIBA Under-17 World Championships in Argentina where New Zealand competed for the first time. With 2:52 remaining on the clock in the National Under-17 final on Saturday, Wellington and Auckland were tied at 84-84. In a game which featured multiple lead changes, Wellington coach Terry Stallworth was forced to call a timeout to try and suppress an Auckland rally. Why was Wellington able to pull though and prevail 95-90?
“I believe every player from the starting five to the bench had a significant role to play. Without the support of bench we wouldn’t of been able to go out and perform. Their constant feedback and positive words enhanced our performance every time we stepped back out on the floor. They were always hyped up and locked in. Personally I had faith in every player who went out on the court to perform,” Aukuso-Vaigafa responds.
Aukuso-Vaigafa, who scored 18 points in the final, made a crucial pass to Tafara Gapare who nailed a clutch three before Wellington outscored Auckland 4-1 from the freethrow line in the last sixty seconds. Delivering under pressure is a quality Aukuso-Vaigafa is growing – exposed to the best youngsters in the World in the past month.
“The FIBA World Cup was an amazing experience. I got to witness players at the highest level everyday. The talent was unbelievable and being in that environment is something I won’t forget and will try and learn from,” Aukuso-Vaigafa enthuses.
New Zealand finished 14th out of 16 countries, earning their first ever win at the tourney 62-57 over China. While an obvious highlight, Aukuso-Vaigafa identifies another game as a standout.
“Every game was difficult as the level of play from all the countries was very high, but the one game that really stood out was the game against the French. Being able to play the team that finished second was a really good measure of how far you we had come, but also how good you have to be,” Aukuso-Vaigafa observers.
Rongotai College didn’t have what it took to compete in Wellington basketball, languishing in lowly positions for many years. That has changed in the past few seasons. Aukuso-Vaigafa was a member of two Rongotai teams who won the North Island junior regionals and last year guided the First V to their first top eight finish at Nationals in two decades. What’s driving Rongotai’s resurgence?
“Mainly the team environment and the bond we have with each other. We are like a family always looking out for one another. The players and coaches know each other so well we trust one another to go out and perform to our strengths,” Aukuso-Vaigafa answered.
Last year Aukuso-Vaigafa was MVP of the National Under-15 tournament also won by Wellington. In 2016 he was a member of the Rongotai junior 3×3 team which claimed a national title. This week Aukuso-Vaigafa is in Los Angeles for an on-campus college basketball experience.
Wellington Under-17 Nationals Results
Pool Play: Hawke’s Bay, 12-68
Pool Play: Rotorua, 109-68
Pool Play: Tauranga, 107-61
Pool Play: Canterbury, 95-80
Quarter-Final: Tasman, 109-78
Semi-Final: North Harbour, 130-113
Final: Auckland, 95-90
Wellington tournament selections: Ezrah Aukuso-Vaigafa, Tafara Gapare, Ezekiel Stallworth
The New Zealand U17 National Basketball Championships start tomorrow in Wellington and run through to Saturday and will feature some of the country’s top young talent.
Three of the New Zealand U17 boys team are still young enough to play at this tournament, having only just stepped off the plane after the FIBA Under 17 World Cup in Argentina, which finished on Monday morning with the team placing 14th overall.
Ezrah Vaigafa will play for Wellington, while Waitaha Red have U17 World Cup representatives Mac Stodart and Samuel Jenkins.
Harbour are the defending champions. The Association is bringing three teams to the tournament including a B squad and an Under 16 team.
There are a number of talented newcomers to this age group to keep an eye on, although still rookies in this age-group and more likely to be forces in 2019. Paora Winitana Junior has just transferred from the Hawke’s Bay to Harbour. The now Westlake Boy’s student was MVP last year at the Under 15s where he help lead the Hawke’s Bay team to a National title. His rival from that tournament, Josh Book, will be back for Tasman. These two traded shot for shot in 2017 Under 15 Grand Final, when the game went into overtime and showed both young men thrive under pressure.
For the New Zealand U17 Girls’ team that will depart for the FIBA U17 World Cup in Minsk next Monday, only Jazzmyne Kailahi-Fulu will be on court at the Under 17 Nationals, representing Harbour.
She’ll be backed up by her younger sister Zaaliyah Kailahi-Fulu, who joins the age-group for the first time.
Another squad that traditionally makes the playoff rounds is the Waikato team. This year the U17 squad features Quaye Walker-Eketone and Jayze Lee Waihi, who both are fresh from the Waikato Wizards team were runners up in the Women’s Basketball Championships that finished last weekend. Interestingly, another player from that Wizards team, Alyssa Hirawani, is also part of the Under 17 Waikato squad, but as Assistant Coach.
Head Coach of the Tall Blacks, Paul Henare, will also attend the event to help Basketball New Zealand selectors and coaches identify talent for future high performance programmes.
The Girls and Boys finals are on Saturday at 4.00pm and 5.45pm respectively.
Rosters: A full list of squad members and representative teams can be found here: http://nz.basketball/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=5pSPlzd3v0k%3d&portalid=26
Livestream: On the last two days of the Nationals, 12 games will be livestreamed, on 13-14 July.
13 July Livestream
10:45am: Girls QF2
12:30pm: Boys QF1
2:15pm: Girls SF1
4:00pm: Girls SF2
5:45pm: Boys SF1
7:30pm: Boys SF2
14 July Livestream
8:00am: Girls 5th/6th Playoff
9:45am: Boys 5th/6th Playoff
11:30am: Girls 3rd/4th Playoff
1:15pm: Boys 3rd/4th Playoff
4:00pm: Girls Grand Final
5:45pm: Boys Grand Final
The New Zealand Under 17’s created history at the FIBA World Cup of Basketball in Argentina on Sunday morning, beating China 62-57. It was the Kiwis first ever win in the tournament and easily the team’s best performance as China struggled to keep up with New Zealand’s hot shooting. They shot 44.8 percent from the floor and were 7-of-16 from 3-point range.
New Zealand jumped out to a 17-8 lead after the first quarter, and it was their hot start that helped set them up for the remainder of the game.
Mitchell Dance followed up his 30-point performance against Serbia with another fine showing. He finished with 23 points, seven rebounds and four assists in 35 minutes, shooting 10-of-21 from the field and 2-of-5 from three.
Marvin Williams-Dunn had his best game at the World Cup, totaling 17 points, three rebounds, four assists and three steals on 6-of-9 shooting and 4-of-5 from three. Anzac Rissetto added eight points and eight rebounds in his 26 minutes of work.
Head Coach Dave Bublitz was thrilled with the performance.
“The boys started really positively and put them on the back foot early. We never lost the lead, but China clawed it back at the end of the game.
“The team finally got a decent field goal percentage which helped. Marvin’s shooting was massive for us.
“It was on the defensive end where we managed to make a real difference. A real grind that the boys can be proud of,” said Bublitz.
New Zealand was hoping to cause a boilover in the quarter finals, but were smashed 48-88 by eventual runners up France.
France’s length and athleticism were tough to overcome, as they held New Zealand to 30.8 percent shooting from the field and 4-of-19 from three. They also forced 27 turnovers, New Zealand’s highest mark during the tournament.
Kainoa Lepou led the team in scoring with 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting, while Marvin Williams-Dunn added nine points with two 3-pointers. Anzac Rissetto had another solid game for New Zealand, posting nine points, eight rebounds and two assists on 3-of-5 shooting.
Head Coach Dave Bublitz was pleased with the team’s effort against one of the world’s top squads.
“Our goal was to try and play the game at our pace. We managed to do this for parts of the game. Our consistency and ability to stay disciplined for the full 40 minutes let us down.”
“Keeping a team like France under 90 points was a great effort but we feel it could have been closer to 80. Their length and athletic ability caused problems as we turned the ball over too many times, leading to transition buckets for them,” Bublitz conceded.
Following the French fall, New Zealand battled Serbia in the 9-16th consolation round and were defeated 51-78.
New Zealand remained within striking distance through three quarters, but a 28-12 run by Serbia in the fourth quarter was enough to propel them to victory.
Mitchell Dance was fantastic with 30 points, six rebounds and one steal in 33 minutes, shooting 12-of-25 from the field and 2-of-8 from three.
However New Zealand’s inconsistent shooting held them back from making a real run in this game. They shot just 26.1 per cent from the field and were 6-of-30 (20 per cent) on 3-point attempts. Serbia also enjoyed a significant advantage on the glass, out-rebounding New Zealand 62-34.
Head Coach Dave Bublitz was happy with the team’s defence against the third best team in Europe.
“Defensively we did a great job by limiting them to 76 points. Our bigs got into ️foul trouble and we had no Shalom Broughton.
“Everyone’s ability to put the ball in the basket, except Mitch Dance, was the glaring difference.”
New Zealand lost the 13th-14th playoff 51-73 to the Philippines. New Zealand was strong defensively out-rebounding the Philippines 60-43, but once again were left to rue an inaccurate shooting display. New Zealand only hit 15-of-55 from the field, losing every quarter of the match.
Once again Mitchell Dance produced a noteworthy performance collecting 12 points and 11 rebounds. Shalom Broughton was the only player to score double digits reaching 10 points while Anzac Rissetto was tireless on the boards collecting 12 rebounds, over a quarter of the entire Philippines total.
The tournament was won for the fifth consecutive time by the USA who thrashed France by a record score of 95-52 in the final. Isaiah Stewart headed four US players in double digits by contributing 15 points and nine rebounds. The USA have won 37 games in row stretching back to the inaugural tourney in 2010.
Jalen Green a guard from Fresno, California was named tournament MVP. Green led the USA in scoring with 15.7 points per game while also averaging 2.3 rebounds and over an assist and a block per game. Green scored 25 points in the quarter final and 27 in the final.
The New Zealand Under 17 basketball team will require a monumental upset to reach the quarterfinals of the FIBA World Championships in Argentina after losing all three games in Group C this week.
New Zealand’s stumbles mean they will face Group D winners France in the Round of 16.
The French have won all three of their matches comfortably outscoring hosts Argentina, Philippines and Croatia by a combined score of 256-155.
Kiwis Head Coach Dave Bublitz isn’t without hope.
“Our next opponents, France, are the favourites to meet the USA in the final. They’re very long, athletic and skilled.
“It will be a massive challenge that the boys are looking forward to. To play two of the top three teams in the world within 36 hours is exciting,” said Bublitz.
New Zealand lost their last group game this morning to unbeaten Canada. Canada burst out to a big 26-12 lead after the first quarter. New Zealand showed greater resolve in the second and third periods, but Canada charged on to claim the last quarter 31-12.
New Zealand’s errant 3-point shooting showed some improvement, as they finished 9-of-30 from distance. Tom Cowie and Marvin Williams-Dunn managed two 3-pointers each.
Mitchell Dance finished with 13 points and seven rebounds to lead New Zealand. Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe was letal for Canada scoring 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting. New Zealand was out-rebounded 49-41.
A sluggish start was a similar problem in the 56-80 loss to Montenegro on Monday morning.
Montenegro jumped out to a 27-11 lead in the first quarter, and despite New Zealand winning the second quarter 14-11, the large deficit proved too heavy to overcome.
Mitchell Dance led the scoring for New Zealand with 14 points. He added eight rebounds and two steals in 27 minutes, shooting 6-of-15 from the field.
Anzac Rissetto was productive with 13 points and nine rebounds on 6-of-10 shooting, while Marvin Williams-Dunn scored 10 points with three steals.
Montenegro’s efficiency from deep was telling, shooting 14-of-37 on 3-point attempts. New Zealand went a lousy 2-of-16 from distance.
Luka Zivanovic (20) and Bojan Tomasevic (21) combined for half of Montenegro’s scoring.
New Zealand opened the tournament falling to Egypt 50-64. New Zealand outscored the Africans 21-13 in the third quarter, but poor shooting was costly with only 24.6% of shots hit from the field.
Kainoa Lepou was productive with 13 points and seven rebounds on 6-of-12 shooting, while Mitchell Dance chipped in 10 points. Egypt had four players score double digits with Momen Mohamed Hassan leading the way with 13 points.
Coach Dave Bublitz was frustrated with the first outcome.
“We generated good looks and had plenty of opportunities, unfortunately, we just couldn’t make shots,” said Bublitz.
“The boys had a great third quarter and got themselves back in the contest, but some disappointing turnovers stalled our momentum.
“Staying confident in our shooting and having more discipline on defence are musts in our next game.”
New Zealand plays France tomorrow morning. All games at the FIBA Under 17 World Cup are being live streamed on the FIBA Youtube channel, or you can watch live on the Basketball New Zealand Facebook page
The New Zealand junior basketball programme will soon name the men’s and women’s teams ahead of the FIBA Under 18 Asia Championships.
The Junior Tall Blacks finish a selection camp today in Wellington. The team that will be named from that will then prepare for their Asia Championships in August in Thailand.
The Junior Tall Ferns will have a selection camp at the conclusion of the girls’ Under 17 World Championships, which are in Minsk, Belarus later this month. Head Coach Jody Cameron will also watch a number of longlist players during this week’s WBC tournament in Dunedin, starting 5 July.
The Junior Tall Ferns Asian Championships will begin on 28 October in Bengaluru, India.
Aon New Zealand Junior Tall Ferns – Longlist for Selection Camp*
Charlotte Whittaker, Canterbury
Keeley Tini, Harbour
Olivia O'Neil, Otago
Grace Hunter, Wellington
Lawrin Tipene, Wellington
Leah Mafua, Wellington
Lauryn Mapasua, New Zealand
Emme Shearer, Harbour
Kay-Hauata Phillips, New Zealand
Zoe Ebbitt, Hawkes Bay/Taranaki
Riva Walker-Pitman Waikato
Alex Bennett South
Mareta Davidson Harbour
Ngapipi Herewini Auckland
Sofia Kennedy Canterbury
Jordyn Maddix Harbour
Tessa Talo-Tomokino Harbour
Rosalia Samia Hawkes Bay/ Taranaki
Paris Lokotui Wellington
Te Araroa Sopoaga Wellington
Parehuia Delamere Harbour
Rashaan Smith Harbour
Arielle Williams McKay Waikato
Katie Jones Taranaki
Rochelle Fourie Manawatu
Parris Mason Taranaki
Sophia Harrison Canterbury
Emily Knight Canterbury
Mele Latu WABI
Koha Lewis Waikato
*Once the Under 17 Girls’ FIBA World Cup has concluded, additional players from that squad may be added to the list.
Jody Cameron, Head Coach
Leanne Walker, Assistant Coach
Tim Dennis, Assistant Coach
Kate Lacey, Manager
Peter Lee, Physio
Aon New Zealand Junior Tall Blacks – Longlist for Selection Camp
Joseph Ahie, Wellington
Cooper Boyce-Towler, Palmerston North
Maxwell Darling, Canterbury
Max De Geest, Canterbury
Tama (Isaac)Faamausili, Palmerston North
Kurt Feneon, Canterbury
Taiaroa Flavell, Otago
Nathan Hanna, Otago
Tomas Higgins, Canterbury
Joshua Leger, Auckland
Corban Mason, Waikato
Sam Mennenga, Harbour
Jaga Mete-Smith, Waitakere West
Matthew O'Connell, Taranaki
Oscar Oswald, Palmerston North
Oscar Robertson, New Plymouth
Klein Salmon, Porirua
Lachlan Scott, Palmerston North
Max Shorter, Auckland
Maxim Stephens, Waikato
Thomas Whyte, Auckland
Flynn Cameron, New Zealand
James Moore, Harbour
Kruz Perrott-Hunt, Harbour
Gavin Briggs, Head Coach
Miles Pearce Assistant Coach
Leyton Haddleton, Assistant Coach
Dawn Chambers, Physio
Charles Maaka Manager
During their long and proud sporting history, Mount Albert Grammar School has forged a reputation as one of the strongest rugby, football and netball schools in New Zealand.
Basketball is another code to add to the list if results in 2018 are anything to go by. After nine rounds of the Auckland basketball premierships, MAGS are joint leaders in the boys competition and second in the girls championship.
The senior girls roster at MAGS boasts undeniable pedigree with the niece of NBA star Steven Adams featured in the squad. Sharne Pupuke-Robati is a New Zealand Under-17 representative who is proud and humble about her famous uncle.
“My uncle has been a great influence in basketball and in general, but like any other family member he tells me to put my academics before basketball,” Pupuke-Robati acclaims.
Pupuke-Robati’s combination of focus and athletic ability has helped MAGS to a 7-2 record this season. In their most recent outing, Pupuke-Robati scored a game high 24 points in a 98-61 thrashing of Carmel College. MAGS were fifth at Nationals last year.
“We really want to do well this year as there are four year 13’s in the team. We all bring different strengths to the team which has created a strong culture and balance,” Pupuke-Robati asserts.
MAGS have been building strength for some time. Pupuke-Robati identifies some of her favourite matches from school were at a time when MAGS wasn't regarded as a national contender.
“Two years ago at Nationals we made it to the finals after being put into the pool of death. We had to play off against two of the best teams in New Zealand on day one and beat both Westlake and St Mary's who had won their zones. We were fifth in our zone. It was great to perform as strongly as the underdogs,” Pupuke-Robati reflects.
MAGS have dropped two games this season. Auckland Girls’ Grammar are unbeaten and Westlake Girls’ are a perennial contender.
“Westlake and Grammar are the hardest teams we have faced this season. They are both very strong teams inside and outside of the paint which wasn't easy for us because we aren't the tallest team. We learned a lot from those games and are in better shape having faced strong teams before the regionals,” Pupuke-Robati observes.
Pupuke-Robati will face stiff opposition in July as a member of the New Zealand Under-17 team headed to the FIBA World Championships in Belarus. New Zealand is attending the tournament for the first time.
“Being apart of the New Zealand team is an amazing opportunity. My role will be to step up as a leader for the girls because I was in the team who qualified for the tournament last year. Our goals are to win have fun and wear that fern proud,” Pupuke-RobatI enthuses.
Pupuke-RobatI is accustomed to winning having also been a member of the all-conquering MAGS premier netball team.
“I am a shooter. My best achievement is probably is being apart of the 2015 team which won the National Secondary School title. It was a massive learning experience for me being one of the babies on the bench and learning things from Maia Wilson whose now a Silver Fern,” Pupuke-Robati recalls.
The MAGS boys team were third at the National Secondary Schools championships last year and this week became the first team in 2018 to beat defending National champions Rosmini College.
Mt Albert had only scored 42 points at the three-quarter mark (leading 42-39) but exploded for 34 points in the final period to beat Rosmini 76-63. Ryan Laumatia, having been kept quiet by Rosmini up until that point scored 13 of his 17 points in the fourth. Aided by a couple of threes from Sataan Tawera and 8 points from Nate Wilson MAGS closed out the game for a seventh straight win.
Ella Bradley is one of the most accomplished age group basketball players in the country.
The year 12 student at St Peter’s Cambridge was recently named in the tournament team at the National Under-19 championships having been selected in the same squad at the National Secondary Schools Championships in 2017.
A two-time National Secondary Schools gold medalist, Bradley is a member of the New Zealand Under-17 squad, but remarkably isn't the most accomplished player on her team.
Bradley is a pivotal teammate of Tall Fern Charlisse Leger-Walker, perhaps the most dominant age group talent New Zealand has seen since Steven Adams. How do the two girls work together?
“Charlisse has taught me a lot and I hope I have taught her some things too. We just try and feed off each other and when she’s not open, I try to step up,” Bradley answers.
The daughter of two Cambridge accountants, Bradley started playing basketball four years ago and earned Waikato representative selection in her first season.
At St Peter's, Bradley has flourished under the guidance of another Walker. Leanne Walker (mother of Charlisse) is a former Tall Fern and the coach of the St Peter’s First V. A strong culture has been built over the course of many seasons.
“There's a lot of work that goes in off the court as well as on it. We have at least two ‘live in’s a year which don't involve much basketball at all, but are all about bonding. All the girls get on and we love playing together,” Bradley acclaims.
St Peter’s are unbeaten in 2018 having narrowly lost the National final to St Mary’s College, Wellington last October. What do St Peter's have to do to go one step better this year?
“It was a close game that could have gone either way. I don't think we would have done much differently,” Bradley reflects.
“We have three Year 13s and four year 12s this year so I guess we have more experience,” she continued.
Waikato retained their National U19 title recently, comfortably beating Harbour in the final, surging to a 60-35 lead at three-quarter time and prevailing 81-54.Bradley contributed 15 points.
In July, Bradley will experience a new country when she travels to Belarus for the FIBA World Under-17 championships.
New Zealand finished fourth at the FIBA Asian Championship in India last October to clinch a spot at the World Cup. The tournament will be a historic occasion as it is the first FIBA age-group World Cup ever attended by a New Zealand Women’s team.
The tournament will open on 21 July with New Zealand scheduled to play Spain in Minsk on that day.
New Zealand are drawn in Group C and will also play Americas bronze medalists Argentina and European Championship runners-up Hungary in pool play. Bradley insists New Zealand is not present to make up the numbers.
“Our goal is to get out of pool play and see what happens from there. A lot of the girls have played together before and we've got good coaches and players,” Bradley warns.
The Australians are the reigning champions with the USA having won the first three World Cup’s.
In addition to basketball, Bradley is a representative standard goal attack in netball she plays for the Fraser Tech club in Hamilton.
Aon New Zealand U17 Team:
Both the Waitaha Canterbury Men’s and Waikato Women’s teams successfully defended their Aon Under 19 National Basketball Championship titles at North Shore Events Centre on Tuesday.
Charlisse Leger-Walker came close to a triple-double (36 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists) as Waikato ran out comfortable 81-54 winners against Harbour in the women’s final.
Max Darling was at his dominant best (27 points and 12 rebounds) as Waitaha Canterbury Red subdued the Manawatu challenge to win the Men’s Championship in equally convincing fashion 104-77.
Aon Under 19 Men’s National Championship Final
A pair of Max Darling dunks highlighted an 18-7 Waitaha Canterbury Red start against Manawatu.
Matt O’Connell and Jake McKinlay each made a couple of scores for Manawatu but it was still a healthy 34-18 quarter time lead to the Cantabs.
Jacob Collis and Oscar Oswald three’s opened the second quarter scoring but Tom Higgins replied in identical fashion as the Canterbury lead approached twenty points (45-26).
Darling, the Tournament MVP, helped himself to more inside points and although the scoring slowed Kurt Feneon and Max de Geest were still able to make scoring contributions. O’Connell (11 points in the half) made a three as time expired in the half but Manawatu still trailed 53-35 at the interval. Darling led all scorers with 19 points at half-time.
Oswald kick started second half proceedings before de Geest made his fourth three of the game – he finished with 5 triples from10 attempts.
O’Connell’s penetrative play reduced the arrears (64-48) but a pair of transition baskets from Connor McLaughlin pushed the lead back beyond twenty points and necessitated a timeout from Manawatu coach Miles Pearce.
Nic Wenmoth (9 points in the quarter) extended the lead further – Canterbury with one hand on the trophy at three-quarter-time leading 83-56.
The industrious Scott Lachlan and the outstanding O’Connell (26 points) added to the Manawatu points tally but the Canterbury lead was never compromised as they completed a successful title defence.
“We came out pretty tough, coach Mark Dickel had us fired up for the game, we put it on hard from the start and pretty much kept it on all game,” said shooting guard de Geest.
“I got a real good start,” said Darling referring to his early dunks. “We were hitting which we haven’t always done – making decent shots which really helped us out,” he added.
“This squad hasn’t been together for too long but we all like each other and get along well and I think that really shows on the court,” added de Geest.
The pair made a combined fourty-nine points and both were named in the Men’s Tournament Team alongside teammate Tom Higgins.
Waitaha Canterbury Red 104 – M Darling 27, M de Geest 22, N Wenmoth 15, T Higgins 12, C McLaughlin 10
Manawatu 77 – O’Connell 26, O Oswald 12, J McKinlay 10, J Collis 8
Referees – Tayla Ammunson and Duran Whiu
Wellington 92 – A Tai-Jones 22, F McClure 17, M Kapua 13, K Salmon 12
Harbour 83 – S Mennenga 24, T Cowie 22, 9 J Burton 9
U19 Men’s Tournament Team
Joseph Ahie (Wellington)
Max de Geest (Canterbury)
Tom Higgins (Canterbury)
Jake McKinlay (Manawatu)
Sam Mennenga (Harbour)
Oscar Oswald (Manawatu)
Kruz Perrott-Hunt (Harbour)
Anzac Rissetto (Auckland)
Maxim Stephens (Waikato
MVP Max Darling (Canterbury
Aon Under 19 Women’s National Championship Final
A complete all-game performance from Tall Ferns guard Charlisse Leger-Walker highlighted Waikato Women’s resounding 81-54 victory against Harbour. The Commonwealth Games silver medalist finished with 36 points (5/8 3PG), 10 rebounds, 9 assists and 2 steals.
Predictably it was Leger-Walker, the Tournament MVP, that opened the scoring and she moved quickly to ten points as Waikato led 23-16 at quarter time.
Riva Walker-Pitman took Waikato into a double-figure lead (28-18), seven straight points from Tayla Dalton keeping Harbour in the hunt.
Jordyn Maddix converted an And-1 play but Leger-Walker, 20 points (9/15FG) in the half, had the final say before the interval to give Waikato a 36-29 lead.
The games leading scorers Dalton and Leger-Walker exchanged baskets to open the second half before Koha Lewis and Kasee Leef once again took the Waikato lead into double-digits - the advantage 51-35 at the mid point of the third quarter.
A long Ella Bradley two extended the Waikato lead into the twenties forcing a Harbour timeout. The break in play bore little fruit as Waikato powered to a 60-35 three-quarter time lead.
Keeley Tini and Rashaan Smith posted fourth quarter points for Harbour but it was of little consequence as Waikato coasted to victory – their fifth Under 19 title in the past nine years.
Leger-Walker was delighted with another national title.
“It was a satisfying win because Harbour were one of the better teams at the tournament but we got a roll on early – it felt even despite it being a big margin at the end.
“The core group of the team have been together about six years now so we feel comfortable together. It’s always nice coming back together to come to Nationals.
Despite having played at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games just a few weeks ago the youngest ever Tall Fern had little trouble adjusting back to age-group basketball.
“I love coming back to play with the girls of my own age group and getting back to the home environment, it’s always fun to play with this team," she said.
Waikato 81 – C Leger-Walker 36, E Bradley 15, A Williams-McKay 10, K Lewis 6
Harbour 54 – T Dalton 17, R Smith 11, J Maddix 9, K Tini 6
Referees – Rhys Hamilton and Brad Clive
Waitaha Canterbury Red 74 – A Book 18, L Hippolite 16, T Nisbett 16, S Kennedy 10
Taranaki 67 – R Samia 15, I Cook 13, K Jones 11, S Cook 8
U19 Women’s Tournament Team
Ella Bradley (Waikato)
Isabelle Cook (Taranaki)
Tayla Dalton (Harbour)
Lauryn Hippolite (Canterbury)
Mele Latu (Waitakere West)
Jordyn Maddix (Harbour)
Leah Mafua (Wellington)
Sharne Pupuke-Robati (Auckland Counties)
MVP – Charlisse Leger-Walker (Waikato)
“I’ve been in the league for five years and guys like Matt Freeman, Tai Wynyard and Sam Waardenburg have been a really positive influence. They lifted the standard and made it more competitive. They have given everyone else more to aspire to,” Kruz Perrott-Hunt acclaims.
The Rosmini College guard is hoping to join the aforementioned names in the US on scholarship next year and has made a good start to 2018 in pursuit of that goal.
After four rounds of the wildly unpredictable Auckland Premiership basketball competition, Rosmini is the only unbeaten side and Perrott-Hutt has averaged 24 points per game.
At last year’s National Secondary School Championships in Palmerston North, Perrott-Hutt was selected in the tournament team as Rosmini claimed the title.
It would appear to be business as usual for the North Shore juggernaut?
“Were a very different team to last year. We’ve lost three of our ‘bigs’ which means we’ve really focussed on our fitness to become a fast moving and shooting team,” Perrott-Hunt reveals.
“We went to a pre-season camp in Tauranga and started training at midnight on a Friday. That was hell,” he continued laughing wryly.
On Friday, Rosmini met their fierce local rivals Westlake Boys’ High School for the first time this season. Initially the lessons of Tauranga appeared to be forgotten as Westlake jumped to a 30-17 lead after the first quarter.
“Our goal was restrict the scoring of Sam Mennenga and Tom Cowie, but we didn’t do that. If you look at the stat line they both scored 30 plus points,” Perrott-Hunt complains.
However Perrott-Hunt dominated the opening moments of the second period, nailing eight straight points, as Rosmini closed to within seven points. Kainoa Lepoa then nailed four consecutive triples as Rosmini surged ahead 54-45 at halftime.
In the second-half Rosmini led by as many as 17 points eventually winning 103-93, Perrott-Hunt finished with 21 points.
“It was a typical Westlake versus Rosmini match. Every possession was hard fought. I’m proud of the way the boys hung in at the start and got a run going later,” Perrott-Hunt enthused.
Rosmini’s 110-59 blowout win against National final opponents Rangitoto College was anything but normal. Rangitoto are winless after four games.
“They won’t be down for long. They have too many good players in their team,” Perrott-Hunt warns.
“When we played them our hustle and execution was great from the outset and I guess they were a little shell-shocked. It was one of those games where everything went right for us,” Perrott-Hunt elaborated.
Perrott-Hunt ended with a game high 31 points, but his best effort this season is 34 points in a 108-77 mauling against Avondale College.
In addition to Rosmini, Perrott-Hunt is a North Harbour and New Zealand Under-19 representative. This weekend the National Under-19 competition is being staged in Auckland and North Harbour’s goal is to win the title. In 2017, North Harbour bombed finishing in 13th place.
“We’ve got a good team with the likes of Ethan Mandeno, Sam Mennenga and Tom Cowie. We're definitely going into it with a mindset to win. A lot of the systems we play are the same as we use at Rosmini so personally that makes the transition into the reps a little easier,” Perrott-Hunt says.
North Harbour is grouped with Wellington, Taranaki and Tauranga. The final is played on Queen’s Birthday Monday.
A strong showing at Nationals will enhance selection prospects for the Junior Tall Blacks. Perrott-Hunt is a member of the New Zealand Under-19 wider training squad.
In August the Junior Tall Blacks are bound for the FIBA Under-18 Asian Championships in Thailand. The top four teams will qualify for the 2019 FIBA Under-19 World Championships.
The Junior Tall Blacks competed at the biannual World’s for the first time in 2017 after a maiden victory over Australia at the 2016 FIBA Oceania Under-18 Championship.
Elsewhere in Round four of the Auckland Premiership, Mount Albert Grammar School heaped more misery upon struggling Avondale College trouncing the bottom placed school 85-43. Auckland Grammar School beat Rangitoto College 84-74 while St Kentigern College thrashed St Peter’s College 92-61. Zach Chan hit eight three pointers for St Kent’s. The explosion of three point shooting is a major and recent change in the sport.
“I think it’s great. It means big guys have to be more versatile and not just rely on dominating the key,” Perrott-Hunt observers.
Perrott-Hunt is from an accomplished basketball family. His mother Angela coached the New Zealand U16 girls while his sister Georgia was on scholarship at the University of North Dakota.
Four young New Zealand players have been selected to participate in the 10th Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Asia camp hosted by the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). The camp will be held in Greater Noida, India from 30 May to 2 June, 2018 and will assemble the top players from across the Asian continent. The players selected are:
· Samuel Jenkins – Canterbury / St Andrew’s College
· Taine Murray – North Harbour / Rosmini College
· Ezekiel Stallworth – Wellington / Scots College
· Mac Stodart – Southland / James Hargest College/St Andrew’s College
Basketball without Borders Asia is an elite basketball skills camp that draws together the top players aged 17 and under from throughout the Asia-Pacific region to learn directly from NBA and FIBA players, legends and coaches, to compete against the best young players from the region. New Zealand players were individually selected by FIBA and the NBA based on their outstanding basketball skills and leadership abilities. Basketball without Borders Asia 2018 will be a unique opportunity for each player to improve his basketball talents and get to know other basketball players of the same age from the region.
Coaches attending will include Corey Brewer (Oklahoma City Thunder; U.S.), Caris LeVert (Brooklyn Nets; U.S.), Kelly Olynyk (Miami Heat; Canada; BWB Americas 2009), Dwight Powell (Dallas Mavericks; Canada), two-time WNBA Champion Ruth Riley, and former WNBA player Ebony Hoffman.
Players and coaches will lead the campers through a variety of activities on and off the court, including movement efficiency, positional skill development, shooting and skills competitions, 5-on-5 games, and daily life skills seminars focusing on health, leadership and communication. One boy and one girl will be named BWB Asia 2018 MVPs at the conclusion of the four-day camp.
Basketball New Zealand High Performance General Manager Leonard King believes the international exposure the four players will experience will be hugely beneficial for their future development.
“The 2018 Basketball Without Borders Asia camp will be an amazing experience for these young talented players, as they will have an opportunity to train alongside some of Asia’s best Junior players.
“Basketball New Zealand would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the players selected to attend the BWB Asia camp, this is a fitting reward for the hard work they have invested in their game.
“It will be an experience of a lifetime, learning from some of the best minds in the game, being exposed to different styles of play and coaching techniques, and competing against some of the best juniors in the world,” King added.
Taine Murray, probably echoing the sentiments of all four players, agreed that this is a major step in his basketball goals.
"I'm really excited to be selected for Basketball Without Borders. It will be an honour to represent New Zealand at such a prestigious camp.
“I'm looking forward to travelling to India and sharing the experience with the other three New Zealand players in my age group. Competing and training with players from different countries and learning from coaches from all around the world is an incredible opportunity.
“I want to thank my coaches and people who have supported me throughout my development to date. I also would like to acknowledge BBNZ and North Harbour Basketball for their support," said Murray.
Jenkins, Murray and Stodart were all members of the New Zealand Under 16 Boys team, coached by Zico Coronel, that finished fourth at the Australian State Championship in Perth last year.
Coronel is delighted with the progress the players have made in the last twelve months.
“All three are great young men and deserving of any opportunity that comes their way, they will be excellent ambassadors for New Zealand at the camp. As a coach I am proud to have worked alongside them.”
New Zealand players to have attended the Basketball Without Borders Asia camp before include Sam Waardenburg, Quinn Clinton, and Callum McRae.
A strong performance at the Asia Camp can lead to selection to the Basketball Without Borders Global Camp as happened for Clinton and Waardenburg last year.
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