In his last three years at James Hargest College, Tom Cowie didn’t lose a single match in the local premier basketball competition and debuted for the Southland Sharks in the NBL. The Sharks are the last side to have beaten twice reigning champions the Wellington Saints.
Cowie is at Westlake Boys’ High School in 2018. Why has Cowie switched from Invercargill to Auckland?
“Kevin Braswell moved to Invercargill in 2014 and has been a real good mentor. Kevin helped me get a place in the Breakers Academy which opens up pathways for me that don’t exist in Invercargill,” Cowie responds.
“I have moved for sporting and academic reasons. I wanted a greater challenge and have enjoyed everything about Auckland so far,” he continued.
Interestingly Breakers coach Paul Henare was the Sharks mentor when they last won the NBL in 2015.
Westlake last won the National Secondary Schools title in 2013, but with Cowie on the roster they have a player of obvious pedigree.
Cowie was a starting point guard for the New Zealand Under-17’s who recently qualified for the World Championships for the first time by finishing third at the FIBA Asian Championships in China.
Cowie averaged 10.7 points and 2.8 assists a game, but saved his best performance for the Iran match which New Zealand had to win to make it to Argentina in June. Cowie piled on 17 points and five assists in a 73-69 win.
“We were the underdogs in the Iran game, but everybody played their roll well,” Cowie acclaims.
How does Cowie see his role?
“My job is to run a team. I need to organise the offense with smart plays. I also like to be aggressive and play my part making stops,” Cowie asserts.
The confidence to be an assertive leader will be vital for Westlake who won their opening match in the Auckland Premiership 69-51 against St Peter’s College last Friday, but face stern assignments in the next fortnight against 2017 round-robin winners Auckland Grammar School and National championships Rosmini College. Rosmini beat Rangitoto College, last year’s National runners up, 110-59 less than a week ago.
“The Auckland competition is a massive step up, but I’m really enjoying the challenge of pushing myself and think we have the team to be successful,” Cowie says.
Josh Koiman was Westlake’s top scorer against St Peter’s with 16 points.
The FIBA Under-17 World Championships run from June 30 to July 8 meaning Cowie will miss a portion of the Auckland Premiership. Cowie is confident Westlake has the depth to coupe in his absence.
“One of the reasons I come to Auckland was to test myself against better players. It’s good to be pushed all the time,” Cowie explains.
The USA have won all four Under-17 World Championships and has never lost in 30 matches at the tournament which features 16 teams. New Zealand is grouped with Canada, Egypt and Serbia and Montenegro who all finished second in their respective qualifying tournaments.
Interestingly Bradley Beal, an NBA All-Star with the Washington Wizards, was tournament MVP at the maiden tourney in 2010.
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