Junior Tall Blacks’ Quinn Clinton focused on FIBA U19 World Cup in Cairo
The last few months have been a notable time for Cantabrian Quinn Clinton, but a couple of upcoming events promise to be particularly special, possibly life changing for the former Christchurch Boys High standout.
Clinton played a major part in Junior Tall Blacks (JTB’s) team that created history with a 57-51 victory against Australia at the FIBA Under 18 Oceania Championships in December.
That victory in Fiji qualified the JTB’s for the FIBA Under 19 World Cup. This is the first time a New Zealand age group team has ever qualified for a FIBA World Championships.
Playing a major part in the victory against Australia is something of an understatement. The 1.9 metre guard top scored for the Kiwis with 14 points. Most notably, with his team trailing 51-49, Clinton drained two threes in the final 90 seconds to secure the win.
Junior Tall Blacks Assistant Coach Leyton Haddleton remembers the closing moments of that game.
“Quinn is a student of the game and has a great situational awareness, and this is a big factor in why he is a great leader.
“The three point go ahead shot against Australia is a specific moment that sticks out for me.
“He organised our offence to get the ball to a mismatch (post-up for centre Callum McRae), knowing that he would be open on the double team and for him to hit that shot says it all.
“It is the result of hard work and hours of practice put in so that he has the knowledge and skill to prevail in the big moments. Credit to him for putting in the work, but also equally credit to those who have been coaching and guiding him throughout his career so far.
“The Canterbury programme are doing a fantastic job of developing their talent and we as coaches at the international level are there to reap the rewards of the hard work they are putting in,” added Haddleton.
That is all history now as Clinton prepares not only for the upcoming Under 19 World Cup and soon after that the commencement of his US college career.
Clinton has signed a four year scholarship at St Mary’s College of California and will begin his freshman year soon after his JTB’s commitments conclude. St Mary’s is of course the former home of Aussie NBA stars Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova.
New Zealand Breakers and New Zealand Select Team Assistant Coach Mike Fitchett, who coached Clinton in New Zealand age group teams, has no doubt the shooting guard has the tools to flourish.
“Quinn was a pleasure to coach. He has a number of attributes that will help him become a successful college and professional player – work ethic, love for the game, basketball IQ, leadership and ability to shoot the ball being his most impressive traits.
“Like all players, he will need some time to adjust to bigger, stronger, faster athletes as he moves out of junior basketball, but I am confident he will be able to make that transition smoothly. I’m looking forward to following his progress at St Mary’s and hope to have the chance to coach him again in the future.”
Another who thinks highly of the 18 year old is Canterbury Under 19 coach Glenn Lang.
“He’s just outstanding, he’s a game winner and a leader. His basketball IQ is off the charts and he can turn a game, and he does.
“The good thing about him is he plays for his team and plays for the other players. He knows he can’t achieve these things without them and that’s the good thing about him. He has got a big future.”
Those comments from Lang came after Clinton produced 34 points, 16 rebounds and 9 assists to carry Canterbury to the Under 19 National title with a 94-89 fourth quarter comeback victory against Auckland last week.
Clinton has quickly moved on from his first national championship success and is fully focused on the World Cup.
“It was good to get game time at the Under 19’s as I hadn’t played for a while and it was certainly beneficial to find some rhythm.
He is looking forward to New Zealand playing Korea on 1 July, the opening day of the tournament.
“That game has been on my mind for a while now. We are certainly not heading to Egypt to make up the numbers. We feel we are capable of punching above our weight, going deep into the tournament and putting New Zealand on the map.”
The squad head into camp at the weekend and Clinton is looking forward to reuniting with his team mates.
“I can’t wait, it’s always a competitive environment and we all push each other to get better.”
The team will complete their final camp in Auckland on Wednesday, before they head to China for warm up games ahead of the World Cup.
“The preparation in China will be critical,” says Clinton. “A number of the guys haven’t played much recently and obviously as a team we haven’t played since December. It will be a great opportunity to work on different combinations and come together as a group before the real business begins in Cairo.”
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