Isaac Letoa was well settled in Year 11 at Wellington College until his Mum changed jobs and he was forced to move to Auckland.
A promising basketball player Letoa headed to Westlake Boys’ High School, a perennial powerhouse in National competition. Letoa was immediately pushed to greater heights.
“I made the starting five in my first year, but I didn’t get a lot of court time. Playing and training alongside guys like Matt Freeman forces you to become better. They are really inspiring and demanding,” Letoa acclaims.
In the last two years Westlake have finished runners up at the National Championships. In 2015, Letoa was named in the tournament team. This year he is captain of Westlake. In the opening fixture of the Auckland competition on Friday night he scored a game-high 35 points as Westlake accounted for Kelston BHS 99-78. What does Westlake have to do to take one more step and become New Zealand’s best?
“I’m not really sure, apart from continuing to work hard. We have had really good teams in the last couple of years, there isn’t a lot in it at Nationals,” Letoa says.
There was plenty of competition to get places in the New Zealand 3×3 team. New Zealand are the under-18 World Champions and Letoa surprised himself by making the final cut.
“I haven’t played a lot of 3×3, but I decided to give it a go because I wanted a fresh challenge. I played in the trials and found out last Tuesday I was in the team which was a bit of a surprise.”
Let joins Tai Wynyard, Sam Waardenburg and Hamish McDonald in the Kiwi squad who will head to Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan, to defend their title between June 1-5.
“I am the shortest player in the team so I play like a point guard. My job is to shoot and find the big guys inside. ”
Games are played over a single period of ten minutes on half a court with a 12 second shot clock. The team that reaches 21 points first wins.
“3×3 is a lot quicker and games are played outside which means the weather becomes a factor,” Letoa says.
New Zealand are grouped with Spain, who were fourth at the last edition of the event in Debrecen, Hungary, as well as emerging nations the Philippines, Hungary and Brazil.
The Netherlands are ranked World number one while 2015 runners-up Argentina have been pitted alongside current European champions Turkey.
The top two in each pool progress to the finals.
“I don’t know a lot about our opposition, but they will be tough. Making a good start and winning the pool games is really important.”
New Zealand has been training for two weeks and Letoa says things are coming along nicely.
“Tai has done a lot of training with Kentucky and is enjoying his time back here. He is looking forward to actually playing. I think we have a good chemistry,” Letoa concludes.
New Zealand Results 2015
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