The Junior Tall Ferns team has been announced ahead of contesting the FIBA U18 Asian Championships in Bengaluru India, 28 October to 3 November.
The team is:
Ella Bradley. Waikato
Tayla Dalton. Harbour
Rochelle Fourie. Palmerston North
Grace Hunter. Wellington
Charlisse Leger-Walker. Waikato
Mele Latu. Counties Manukau
Leah Mafua. Wellington
Olivia O’Neil. Otago
Te Araroa Sopoaga. Wellington
Emilia Shearer. Harbour
Tessa Taio-Tomokino. Harbour
Charlotte Whittaker. North Canterbury
Sophia Kennedy. Canterbury
Koha Lewis. Waikato
Rasharnn Smith. Harbour
Lawrin Tipene. Harbour
Jody Cameron. Head Coach
Leanne Walker. Assistant Coach
Tim Dennis. Assistant Coach
Peter Lee. Physiotherapy
Kate Lacey. Team Manager
This team sees the admission of younger than usual talent, including three Under 17 National team representatives who have been selected after winning Silver at last year’s U17 Oceania Championships in Guam, and finishing fourth at the 2017 FIBA U17 Asian Championships and 12th at the FIBA U17 World Cup in July this year.
The team will be coached by Tall Ferns Assistant Coach Jody Cameron. She is supported by Assistant Coach Leanne Walker, a former Tall Ferns Captain and Olympian who is also the New Zealand Gold Medal 3x3 Asian Championship winning Coach.
Coach Cameron says she’s thrilled within the group and looks forward to seeing the team compete on the world stage.
“I am very pleased with the talent this team has shown as we prepare to compete in the Asian Champs.
“We have had a number of young athletes push their way into selection, making my job very difficult, but necessary to progress to Worlds,” says Cameron.
The Junior Tall Ferns programme historically prepares talent for the Tall Ferns longlist. Cameron says being involved with the New Zealand talent development programme is special and part of the enjoyment comes from watching players achieve higher honours at the top level.
“It’s always a great honour to coach a junior national team and see players evolve into the senior programme. We hope these athletes have their sights set on being Tall Ferns one day.
“Their development is of high importance in the progress of the women's league and programme in New Zealand. We are starting to see more depth as the game attracts other sporting codes, sees increasing participation at the entry level, and retains those that have gone through their junior years and are now giving back to the game. It’s an exciting time to be a part of this sport,” says Cameron.
The FIBA Asian Championships are a qualifying tournament for the FIBA U19 World Cup. This team will have their sights set on a top four finish to secure a starting spot at that event.
With the success of the Tall Ferns with a Bronze Medal at the Commonwealth Games and winning the William Jones Cup this year, plus a women’s 3x3 Asia Championship Gold medal, New Zealand women’s basketball is adding more trophies to their cabinet and the pathway is looking bright for these dedicated young players.
Spurred on by their new Moascar Cup holding First XV, Napier Boys’ High School’s premier basketball team have defeated Rongotai College 77-72 in the final of the AA Zone 3 regional championships in Palmerston North.
In the last major event before Nationals, at the same venue in October, Napier rallied from an initial 16-6 deficit and held their nerve against the fast finishing Wellington champions.
With about five minutes remaining Rongotai led 68-67 when both teams struck a barren patch - neither scoring for more than two minutes. Rongotai had four three-point attempts rattle out and Napier failed to convert several layups.
Finally Jissanne Allen converted a shot with 2:30 left to lift Napier to a 69-68 lead. Another 21 seconds elapsed before Qing Yu Jiang missed two free throws. Rongotai responded by sneering the advantage, Jaylin To’o bustling through traffic to make it 70-69.
Tyrese Davies was Napier’s most effective offensive weapon, employing a combination of bulk and finesse to score regularly. Two close range buckets by Davies, in response to another To’o score. had Napier 73-72 ahead with 52 seconds to spare.
Napier committed a shot clock violation, but crucially snaffled a rebound with 28 seconds showing. Rongotai’s defense was smothering and another 14 seconds went by with no change to the score.
Yu Jiang was fouled, but only hit with two of his last six free throws, leaving Napier 74-72 in front with plenty of time for Rongotai to position themselves for a possible win.
Tragically the often fleet-footed Ezrah Vaigafa tripped over with five seconds to go and surrendered possession. Napier eventually settled the contest with a pair of free throws by Allen.
Rongotai on the back of triples by Finn McClure and Ben Robertson started brightly, bursting out to a 16-6 lead. However a three by Tylah Davies triggered a Napier rally and with Tyreese Davies going to work inside, Rongotai only led 25-24 after the first quarter.
Tyreese Davies really caught fire in the second quarter piling on five consecutive buckets as Napier stretched the margin to 11 points. A 6-0 Rongotai run made it 44-39 at halftime.
Rongotai had only scored four points midway through the third quarter as Napier maintained a 12 point advantage.
Klein Salmon eventually stopped the rot with two three’s and a steal as Rongotai closed to 61-56 at three quarter time.
A quick five points by Robertson and another long range connection by Salmon pushed Rongotai 64-63 ahead. Clifton Bush put Napier back in front with a three of his own before the tough and tense dying stages.
Napier's First XV playoff for the National title against St Peter's College, Auckland tomorrow in Palmerston North.
The Zone tournament serves as a seeding and qualifying event for Nationals. Napier and Rongotai will be joined by Palmerston North Boys’ High School, St Patrick’s College, Wellington, Hastings Boys’ High School and New Plymouth Girls’ High School.
The girls final was won by Sacred Heart College, New Plymouth over Wellington champions Hutt Valley High School. Queen Margaret College, Napier Girls’ High School, Wellington Girls’ College and Palmerston North Girls’ High School will also be present at Nationals.
Napier Boys’ High School AA Zone 3 Results
PP: Wellington College, 82-54
PP: Francis Douglas Memorial College, 101-57
PP: Upper Hutt College, 101-59
QF: St Patrick’s College, Silverstream, 102-63
SF: Palmerston North Boys’ High School, 92-82
GF: Rongotai College, 77-72
Joseph Ahie (Onslow College), Thomas Whyte (Auckland Grammar School), Max de Geest (former Christ's College) and James Moors (former Westlake Boys' High School) will be representing New Zealand at the upcoming Youth Olympic Games.
The players are part of the New Zealand U18 3x3 basketball team, recently selected as part of the 61-strong New Zealand team for the Argentina games from 6-18 October.
The roster is made up of a fine selection of talent, most of which has featured regularly on New Zealand age-group five aside teams.
Joseph Ahie will be representing his school at the Secondary Schools Basketball Premierships early next month. Ahie last represented Wellington at the U19 Nationals and was also named in the tournament team. Ahie says the opportunity to play for New Zealand is a privilege.
“Representing New Zealand is such a huge honour to me. I'm excited to do it once again, especially at an event as huge as the Youth Olympic Games. It'll be an experience I'll never forget,” said Ahie.
For de Geest the 3x3 selection is an extension of what has already been an impressive year. It’s been just over a week since de Geest returned from winning a silver medal with the Junior Tall Blacks at the FIBA U18 Asia Championships.
Upon return he was also named as one of four development players for the SKYCITY Breakers. He was a key player for the Waitaha Canterbury Red team that won the Under 19 National Championships last June, where he was also named in the tournament team.
At only 18, de Geest also played for the fifth-placed Canterbury Rams in the NBL this year.
James Moors was also part of the Junior Tall Blacks team at the FIBA U18 Asia Championships this month, with the selection a continuation of his surging success in recent years. Moors has signed an NCAA Division 1 basketball scholarship with Colorado State University, United States. The Westlake old boy has been a regular for Harbour Basketball, helping to win national titles during his time. Moors was also selected to play at the Nike All Asia Camp and the NBA's Asia Pacific Camp last year. He says the chance to play at the Youth Olympic Games is a dream come true.
“Having the opportunity to represent New Zealand at the Youth Olympic Games is a pretty amazing feeling. I’ve always wanted to compete at this competition so I’m very thankful for being selected and can’t wait to get on the court,” said Moors.
Thomas Whyte has also represented his province, playing for Auckland Basketball. He recently competed commendably at the U19 Nationals. Whyte also gained selection for the 2017 Nike All Asia Camp along with James Moors. Whyte has ambitions to attain a scholarship in the US and will be departing Auckland Grammar school to begin a post-graduate year at St Thomas More Prep School, Connecticut from September 2018
Three of the Youth Olympic team have also been named to play in the FIBA 3x3 U18 Asia Cup in Cyberjaya, Malaysia, 6 – 9 September (this week). Only Ahie will not play in that team, partly on account of his commitment to the Secondary School Premierships this week.
3x3 basketball has been contested at the two previous editions of the Youth Olympic Games, with the sport to make its full Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020. The rules can be viewed at this link.
The Games are a pre-elite development opportunity for the world's most promising young athletes, allowing them to experience a multi-sport games environment while exposing them to learning and cultural opportunities and helping them on the performance pathway.
2Jayden Boucher asserts he enjoys being a leader. This should come as little surprise when one learns he’s the son of New Zealand basketball great Dillon Boucher.
Jayden is a Year 12 guard at Rosmini College, Auckland - the dominant schoolboy team in New Zealand at present. In 2017, Boucher was a member of Rosmini’s National Championship winning roster and in 2018 Rosmini are Auckland champions, having only dropped a solitary game.
Dillon played a record 422 games in the NBL, winning nine championships and was also involved in four Breakers premierships and many internationals with the Tall Blacks. Was basketball a forced choice for Jayden?
“Dad didn’t mind what sport I played. I actually played football and rugby for a while, but being around basketball all the time made me fall in love with it,” Jayden answered.
Boucher’s love of the game has earned him a place with the Breakers Academy, training two or three times a week before school. Additionally Boucher was one of 20 boys selected for the inaugural Steven Adams basketball camp. Six leading coaches identified the nationwide talent.
“It was an amazing experience which lasted two days. We did a combination of practical and theory. The theory stuff might sound boring, but it was really invaluable hearing from players who had been to the US and experienced a lot in the sport,” Boucher reflected.
Adams himself was present and very accessible.
“Steven was great. He had time for everyone and his office door was open the whole time. The most valuable thing I learned from Steven is to be relentless and thorough all the time. He said Kiwis nature can get a bit casual sometimes and in the NBA that isn’t such a good thing,” Boucher revealed.
There’s nothing casual about Rosmini in 2018. In the Auckland Premiership final they thrashed Mount Albert Grammar School 80-48 to capture the title for the second time in three seasons. The result was a reversal of their previous meeting which MAGS won. What changed?
“We did a lot of scouting to fix the parts of our game that went wrong. MAGS are a big and athletic team so we had to prevent them getting inside and use our strengths which are speed and shooting,” Boucher divulged.
It should be stressed when Rosmini lost to MAGS, New Zealand representatives: Mitchell Dance, Kainoa Lepou, Marvin Williams-Dunn and Kruz Perrott-Hunt were all absent, but Boucher is keen to emphasise Rosmini’s depth.
“We’ve got 16 players on the roster so we run pretty deep. We expect everyone to step up when required and have faith they will,” Boucher said.
“It’s great when we have our National reps. The level of intensity and skill always goes up, but we’ve got good chemistry in the whole group,” Boucher continued.
This week Rosmini is seeking to defend their Zone 1 AA title. The top six teams form this tournament qualify for Nationals in Palmerston North in October. Rosmini is grouped with Liston College, Northcote College, Long Bay College, St Kentigern College and Manurewa College. All teams accept St Kent’s shouldn’t present Rosmini with to must distress. How does Rosmini guard against complacency?
“Our coaches are always pushing us to improve because there is competition within the squad and New Zealand is only a big fish in a small pond,” Boucher concluded.
Jayden is the oldest child in his family followed by Makenzee and twins Sierra and Kassidy. Dillon Boucher is presently General Manager of the Breakers while outside of basketball Jayden has expressed an interest in studying sports science.
Above: Cashmere High School (Canterbury), Rongotai College (Wellington) and Rosmini College (Canterbury) won their Senior Boys titles. PHOTOS: Cashmere High School , Wareham Sport Media and Rosmini College
The local basketball titles have been decided in Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury. Now the attention turns to regionals with 24 places (six in each of the four zones) available at Nationals in Palmerston North in October.
For the first time since 1998, Rongotai College are Pohlen Cup champions after an emphatic 85-69 victory over St Pats Town.
Rousing slam dunks by Ben Robertson and Jayden Puroku in the last minute applied the exclamation mark on Rongotai’s eighth overall championship.
Rongotai made an electric start charging to a 29-12 lead after the first quarter. Rongotai’s defensive intensity and rapid ball movement had Town startiled as the lead expanded to as many as 24 points in the second quarter.
Jaylin To’o scored Rognotai’s first five points and finished with a game high 24, but there were multiple contributors in amassing the decisive lead.
Diminutive and speedy guards Ezrah Vaigafa and Finn McClure shared 26 points between them while Robertson, a beast on the boards, chimed in with 10 and Klein Salmon nailed three triples in the last quarter to finnish with 13.
Town captain Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones produced a herculean effort following his haul of 40 points in the semi-final with 24 in the decider. Tait-Jones scored Town’s first eight points and he contributed several assists with a particularly effective no-look pass. Filimone Waqabaca ended with a flourish and collect 23.
The closest Town got after the lead ballooned past ten was 80-69 with about three minutes remaining. There was no question about the fight of the runners up, but Rongotai when they combine speed with precision are thoroughly entertaining and effective.
Hutt Valley High School (HVHS) won the Sharp Cup for the first time since 2013 with a nail-biting 69-65 triumph over Queen Margaret College (QMC).
HVHS surged to a 32-17 lead midway through the second quarter, but a 15-2 QMC run leveled proceedings by halftime.
HVHS led for most of the second-half, but with 1:59 remaining found themselves 61-60 down when Lilly Taulelei hit a jumper.
Following a timeout, a three by Jordan Rangitawa propelled HVHS back into a lead they never lost - despite some anxious moments.
Another Rangitawa triple at 63-62 appeared to provide HVHS with some breathing space, only for a quick steal and lay up by Grace Hunter reduced the deficit back to 66-65.
With 15 seconds left, HVHS led 67-65 when captain Leah Mafua missed a second free throw. Heroically Jasmine Troke sneered the rebound and with urgent support managed to waste seven seconds before Rangitawa was fouled. When Rangitawa connected with both shots, QMC’s brave title challenge was extinguished.
HVHS built their initial lead on the back of solid shooting by Rangitawa (20 points) and Mafua.
QMC was down 24-13 after the first quarter and took more than five minutes to make a single field goal in the second.
A three by Rosie Campbell with 3:28 left in the first-half was the catalyst for their resurgence.
Suddenly Paris Lokotui (20 points) caught fire and scored half of the next 14 points as the score was 34-34 at the main interval.
HVHS narrowly won the third quarter 19-17 with Mafua finding her range often - eventually finishing with a game high 24 points.
Hunter (17 points) hit two improbable jumpers in the last quarter when doubled-teamed, but HVHS held their nerve with the late heroics of Rangitawa and Troke enough to earn a seventh Sharp Cup championship.
Cashmere High School are back-to-back Thomson Trophy champions, defeating Rangiora High School 86-61 in the final. Nic Wenmoth was named finals MVP after scoring 19 points and collecting seven rebounds.
The first-half was tight and at one stage Cashmere only led 36-31. However Rangiora struggled to score in the second-half and tellingly were outscored 36-6 by the Cashmere bench.
Cashmere’s Louis Oskam scored a game-high 20 points while Jack Exeter and Lachie MacFarlane contributed 18 each.
In the girls Whelan Trophy decider between Rangi Ruru Girls’ School and St. Andrew’s College it was Charlotte Whittaker who put on a show for the crowd.
Whittaker scored 40 points and fetched 18 rebounds and 5 steals as St Andrew's successfully defended their title with a resounding 73-59 victory.
Rangi Ruru’s Alice Sproat (17 points, 14 rebounds) tried hard for her side, but once St Andrew’s jumped ahead 24-11 at quarter time, Rangi Ruru was always chasing the game.
Mount Albert Grammar School beat Auckland Girls’ Grammar School 59-52 on August 24 at the North Shore Events Centre. For AGGS it was just their second local loss in two years.
AGGS led 28-27 at halftime and 38-33 in the third-quarter, but a 15-2 MAGS run made it 48-40 at three quarter-time.
Laetitia Tuaiti was outstanding for AGGS scoring 26 points, but Sharne Pupuke-Robati had 21 for MAGS whose tough defense restricted AGGS to just 24 points in the second-half.
On the subject of tough defence, reigning National champions Rosmini College thrashed Mount Albert Grammar School 80-48 in the boys decinder.
Rosmini made the brighter opening with Mitchell Dance and Kruz Perrott-Hunt sharing triples in the establishment of an early 9-0 lead.
Clarke Aiono got MAGS on the scoreboard but three’s from Dance and Marvin Williams-Dunn gave Rosmini an 18-8 quarter-time lead.
More three’s from Jayden Boucher and Perrott-Hunt pushed the Rosmini advantage beyond twenty points before MAGS closed the gap to 38-20 at halftime.
MAGS reduced the deficit to 16 points early in the fourth quarter, but buckets from Kainoa Lepou and Taine Murray termined any prospects of a comeback. Dance led all scorers with 24 points.
There are four Zone tournaments around the country this coming week.
Tournament Dates: September 5-8, 2018
City: Auckland (North Shore)
Host: Harbour Basketball
Venue: North Shore Events Center & AUT North Shore
Tournament Dates: September 5-8, 2018
Host: Rotorua Basketball
Venue: Energy Events Centre
Tournament Dates: September 5-8, 2018
City: Palmerston North
Host: Basketball Manawatu
Venue: Central Energy Trusts Manawatu
Tournament Dates: September 5-8, 2018
Host: Southland Basketball
Venue: ILT Stadium Southland
For more details click here: http://nz.basketball/Competitions/Schools/AA-Premierships
Jacob Collis is a towering presence standing a sweet 6 foot 7. Last week in New Plymouth, the Palmerston North Boys’ High School power forward led his school to a successful defence of their Super 8 basketball title and was subsequently awarded tournament MVP.
“I think I won because of my leadership. I'm a senior player and my job is to help the younger guys around me step up,” Collis responds when asked why he believes he was chosen for the accolade.
Palmerston North has become a National force in recent times. In 2016 they were runners up at the National Championships and the likes of Oscar Oswald, Callum McRae and Collis himself have supplied the nucleus of the Manawatu Jets NBL team.
“The NBL was a real good experience. Learning things playing with and against older players has really grown my game. I've been training seven to eight times a week,” Collis reveals.
The competitive edge gained from playing in a semi-professional league has benefited a young Palmerston North roster. Despite having two Year 11 rookies, Palmerston North managed to retain their Super 8 title.
After an easy win against Gisborne Boys’ High School, Palmerston North faced eventual finalists Napier Boys’ High School in their second group fixture. The match proved to be a valuable learning lesson.
“We gave away 26 turnovers and got into foul trouble. Our bench had to dig deep which was great, but in the final we took better care of the ball,” Collis explains.
Hosts New Plymouth were subdued in the last group game before Tauranga Boys’ College were conquered in the semi-finals. Collis was impressed with the standard of those teams, but complains Palmerston North is capable of a whole lot more.
“I think we can play 50 percent better than what we did at Super 8,” Collis warns.
“We've got a lot to work on and that's encouraging,” he continued.
Napier Boys’ High School won the Super 8 in 2016 and proved to be tough finalists. Collis was praiseworthy of the opposition.
“Napier played a great all round game, but we fired up and I think that was the difference,” Collis reflects.
Colis identifies LeBron James as his favourite player. In September, Palmerston North will attempt to defend their Zone III regional title - a top six placing at that event guaranteeing a place at Nationals in Palmerston North in October.
Palmerston North Super 8 scores
Game 1 v Gisborne BHS - Win - 92-36
Game 2 v Napier BHS - Loss - 89-71
Game 3 v New Plymouth BHS - Win - 83-73
Semi Final v Tauranga BC - Win - 89-71
Final v Napier BHS - Win - 84-74
Super 8 Tournament Team
Tyresse Davies - NBHS
Clifton Bush III - NBHS
Kopere Tanoa - PNBHS
Jake McKinlay - PNBHS
Jocob Collis - PNBHS (MVP)
Chris Tupaea - TBC
Josiah Albert - TBC
Corban Mason - HBHS
Savinata Teuhema - RBHS
Aidan Tonge - RBHS
The New Zealand Women’s U17 basketball team finished 12th in their inaugural appearance at the FIBA U17 World Cup in Minsk, Belarus.
After being regulated to the consolation fixtures, New Zealand beat hosts Belarus to secure a first ever Women’s FIBA Age-Group World Cup victory.
Tara Manumaleuga led all scorers with 19 points, Tayla Dalton scored 14 points (6/10FG) and Charlisse Leger-Walker and Shauna Povey added 10 points apiece. Sharne Pupuke-Robati (12 points and 13 rebounds) and Jazzmyne Kailahi-Fulu (8 points, 15 rebounds and 5 steals) were dominant on the boards as New Zealand won the rebounding count 54-39 and the match 73-59.
New Zealand Head Coach Lori McDaniel was naturally delighted with the result.
“The coaching staff, management and players are absolutely stoked to get the win and not just a win but a very convincing one.
“We had players like Sharne Pupuke-Robati putting together some really great numbers across the board, McDaniel acclaimed.
New Zealand grabbed the initiative at the beginning of the third period outscoring the hosts 12-1 after being down 28-29 at halftime. Povey and Manumaleuga both knocked down threes as the Kiwis moved the ball with pace and accuracy to find the open shooter.
Belarus fought their way back into the contest but a buzzer beating three from Dalton ensured New Zealand were well placed at three-quarter time leading 52-45.
Povey and Pupuke-Robati initiated a decisive 8-2 run at the start of the fourth period and from there New Zealand, with Leger-Walker controlling proceedings, eased to a famous victory.
New Zealand should have enjoyed repeat success against Mali, but fell in overtime 66-64 in overtime to Mali at the FIBA Under 17 World Cup in Minsk, Belarus on Saturday.
A victory would have given New Zealand a top ten finish in their first ever appearance at a Women’s FIBA Age-Group World Cup but the Kiwis, after controlling most of the contest, were stunned by a late Mali revival.
In a bruising encounter New Zealand led 46-32 at three-quarter time and appeared on track for consecutive wins after defeating Belarus the previous day.
When Charlisse Leger-Walker (25 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists) and Tara Manumaleuga (14 points) scored on consecutive plays New Zealand led 57-46. However, plagued by turnovers, the Kiwis were outscored 11-0 by the African champions in the closing three and a half minutes.
New Zealand Head Coach Lori McDaniel was, like her players, very disappointed with the result.
“It was a tough battle that came down to the wire. Again we were plagued by costly turnovers in a very physical battle.
“Mali never gave up and credit to them for battling through for the win,” McDaniel mourned.
New Zealand finished the tournament with a disappointing 88-66 defeat to China.
Charlisse Leger-Walker led all scorers with 23 points and added 11 rebounds and 4 steals. Tara Manumaleuga contributed 18 points (5/9 3PG) and Jazz Kailahi-Fulu secured 7 rebounds and 8 points.
New Zealand fell 17-11 behind in the first quarter and 45-26 at half-time.
Things looked to be turning ugly in the middle of the third period when the Kiwis fell thirty points behind but they rallied behind three triples from Manumaleuga and scores from Helen Matthews, Tayla Dalton and Kailahi-Fulu to cut the deficit to 59-43 at the three-quarter mark.
New Zealand Head Coach Lori McDaniel lamented her team’s sluggish opening.
“After a very slow first half the girls made some really great adjustments and came out with a lot of fight.
“The Chinese shot the ball unnervingly well which is a credit to them but our girls showed some great fight....“Overall I think we have showed we can compete on this world stage.” McDaniel said.
Leger-Walker, a tireless leader, finished the tournament placed fourth highest individual scorer (15.1ppg) and eighth highest rebounder (8.0rpg).
Manumaleuga averaged 12 points per game and finished twelfth highest scorer.
Kailahi-Fulu was the fourth highest rebounder (9.0rpg)
In the gold medal game USA proved much too good for France winning 92-40 and Australia claimed bronze beating Hungary 57-51.
The New Zealand Women’s Under-17 basketball team will be playing for consolation only at the remainder of the FIBA Under 17 World Cup in Belarus.
In their inaugural appearance at the event, New Zealand has lost their opening four matches.
Following a sluggish start, New Zealand produced two fiercely competitive showings before suffering a hiding to Australia in their Round of Sixteen fixture yesterday.
New Zealand were beaten 83-48 by Spain in their opening game in Minsk on Saturday.
The score didn’t do justice to the New Zealand effort as in the middle of the third period they trailed one of the European powerhouse teams by single figures. However 33 turnovers, most at the back end of the game, proved costly as the Kiwis were outscored 26-8 in the closing quarter.
Jazzmyne Kailahi-Fulu led the New Zealand effort with a fine double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds (including 6 offensive boards) with Tayla Dalton (11 points and 9 rebounds), Charlisse Leger-Walker (10 points) and Tara Manumaleuga (9 points and 6 rebounds) the other major contributors.
New Zealand were certainly not overawed in their first appearance on the world stage as Kailahi-Fulu gave them an early 7-4 lead and although that advantage was quickly extinguished the Kiwis were giving a good account of themselves trailing 22-19 at quarter time and 39-31 at halftime.
New Zealand’s Spanish slump endured for much of the match against Hungary. Down twenty-two points early in the third period New Zealand remarkably closed to within a single point (55-54) with four minutes to play but couldn’t quite pull off a major upset against the European Championship runners-up.
Guard Tara Manumaleuga paced the Kiwis with a game high 23 points and she received fine support from Sharne Pupuke-Robati (6 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists), Charlisse Leger-Walker (10 points and 10 rebounds), Helen Mathews (7 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals) and Tayla Dalton (4 points and 4 rebounds).
The effort was even more commendable given forward Jazz Kailahi-Fulu missed all the second half with a rolled ankle after New Zealand had entered the contest two players light with the injured pair of Isabelle Cook and Kyra Paniora absent for the second game running.
New Zealand Head Coach Lori McDaniel was understandably pleased with the performance of her charges.
“The team definitely stepped up to the challenge of making changes for the second game, going down to the wire losing by just eight points to the second best team at the European Championship is absolutely incredible,” he said.
New Zealand was left to rue a missed opportunity in their last game of pool play against Argentina on Tuesday. The Kiwis succumbed 60-52 to Argentina on Tuesday.
When Sharne Pupuke-Robati (17 points and 9 rebounds) converted a pair of free throws with 1:57 to play New Zealand trailed by just a single point (50-49) and it looked as if their strong defensive effort might carry them to victory.
However it was not to be - Argentina reeled off nine straight points in the closing two minutes to deny the Kiwis.
After a horror third period, when the Kiwis scored just six points, it was Pupuke-Robati and Charlisse Leger-Walker (13 points, 6 rebounds and 10 assists) that provided the scoring impetus early in the fourth quarter to carry New Zealand within sight of victory.
Head Coach Lori McDaniel was understandably disappointed with the result.
“It was a disappointing finish after a really good start. In the first half we executed the game plan, we moved the ball well and defensively did the things we wanted to do.
“In the second half we went away from that and it cost us down the stretch,” he said.
Early on, three’s from Madison Hema and Shauna Povey helped propel New Zealand to a 16-13 first quarter lead.
Pupuke-Robati and Jazz Kailahi-Fulu (8 points and 6 rebounds) were prominent as a 13-3 run stretched the New Zealand advantage to 29-16. Argentina dealt only in triples, making three in the period to trail New Zealand 31-23 at the interval.
Despite Ella Bradley being the only Kiwi to score from the field in the third quarter, the other points coming from the free-throw line, New Zealand trailed by just a single point (38-37) with ten minutes to play.
The disappointment of a near miss against the Pumas clearly told against Australia, New Zealand hammered 77-37. The reigning World Champions were dominant from the outset and Lori McDaniel was naturally downbeat when summing up the New Zealand performance.
“It was a disappointing showing against a very tough and well drilled Australian side,” McDaniel conceded.
The Kiwis only shot 24% (12/51) from the floor and made just 3 from 29 triples – all scored by Leger-Walker. New Zealand turned the ball over on 26 occasions compared with just 9 possession losses by the opposition.
Charlisse Leger-Walker scored 15 points (5/11FG), Sharne Pupuke-Robati was next best with 8 points and Jazz Kailahi-Fulu, featuring in the top ten rebounders at the World Cup, pulled down 7 boards to accompany 6 points.
Shyla Heal, daughter of legendary Australian Boomer Shane Heal, led the scoring for the Sapphires with 20 points.
New Zealand plays Belarus in the 9-16 place quarter finals.
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
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