Sam Aruwa is one of the leading basketball players at Auckland Grammar School. The year 13 power forward has represented the New Zealand Under-17 team. He also toured Australia with the New Zealand Under-16 team in 2013. New Zealand won three out of four games and Aruwa was the highest scorer in two games.
In July 2015 he travelled to Las Vegas on a college scouting camp. Aruwa speaks about these experiences below:
When did you start playing Basketball?
I started playing basketball when I was in Year 4. I started to take it seriously in Year 7. I have always been a small or power forward.
Tell us about your trip to Las Vegas and the style of play over there?
It was held in July and was a tournament featuring 200 High Schools in the USA. New Zealand entered a team and each team was graded from elite to platinum, gold to bronze. We were matched up in the silver category and made it to the round of 16. I found the American style of play really different to New Zealand. The athletes are so big, quick and skilful. Also one or two guys tend to dominate the scoring.
Auckland Grammar is having a strong season. What is the main goal in 2016?
Our goal is to win Nationals, but it will be tough. Our results in Auckland have been good. We have beaten Westlake Boys’ High School who were runners up last year and Rangitoto College who might be the favourites for Nationals because they have Tai Wynyard. We believe we can compete with any team on our day.
What is the goal for the future?
I still have another year of school. I want to get good grades because that’s really important. I would like a crack at college in America. Playing in Las Vegas gave me a good idea of how tough that is.
Who is your favourite player?
Hamish McDonald has reinforced his credentials as one of New Zealand's most promising age-group shooting guards. After averaging 33 points a game at the National Under-17 championships last year, McDonald has won a silver medal in the final of the Shootout Contest, at the FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championships in Kazakhstan.
McDonald explains how the competition works and how it unfolded.
"It was a mixed field that featured one player from each of the 21 countries. Each player took 10 shots, five from each side of the three-point line. The players who got the most shots in the quickest won. In the final there was a boy from Hungary and girls from Poland and China. I was beaten by the Polish girl," he recalls.
The tournament was played on an outdoor court in blustery conditions.
"It was pretty tough. It was cold and the ball was swirling around a bit. Shooting outside is a bit different, but I guess it kind of suits us Kiwis because it's cold and windy here," McDonald says.
New Zealand was a little too hot on the opening day of the tournament. They breezed through pool play which included resounding victories over Philippines, Brazil and Spain. They succumbed in the semi-finals to eventual winners Qatar.
"Qatar was the only other team in the tournament with a big man. He hit three three-pointers and in a game that's first to 21 and only lasts ten minutes that's huge. We tried hard, but we were banged up because I think we went a little too hard on the first day. Tai Wynyard emptied the tank," McDonald says.
Kazakhstan proved to be a really interesting destination.
"The accommodation was really nice and so were the people, but I wasn't so keen on the food. They give us this beetroot fish on the first night so I just stuck to the noodle shops the rest of the time," McDonald laughs.
McDonald doesn't have much spare time. He will soon fly to Melbourne for the NBA sponsored, Hoops Without Borders. He is also a member of the Junior Tall Blacks who will contest the Oceania Championships in Fiji.
McDonald has switched from Hamilton Boys' High School to Hillcrest High School. Hillcrest have won seven games in a row in the Waikato competition and appear to be in great shape for an assault on the title.
"The team is looking real strong. It's basically the Waikato rep team and we've got a real good chemistry," McDonald enthusiastically concludes.
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