New Plymouth Boys High School senior basketball coach David Bublitz has been the same group of players since they were in year nine and he credits that bond which helped them come third at the recent national secondary school championships in Palmerston North recently.
The third placing is New Plymouth’s best effort at the national tournament after coming fourth in 1989 and 2011.
New Plymouth were unbeaten in pool play with comfortable wins over Christs College, St Patricks Town, Auckland Grammar twice, once in pool play and again in the third verse fourth play-off match, Kelston Boys High in their quarter final but lost to Palmerston North Boys High School in the semi-finals.
Palmerston North ended up going down to Rongitoto College in a dramatic final which went down to the last second.
Speaking on Access Radio Taranaki’s Get Onside sports programme on Saturday morning, Bublitz said he had been with the majority of his players for the last five years after a stint coaching the Taranaki MountainAirs side.
“I believe the culture we had was really strong. They all trusted each other and they all understood what their roles were in terms of how to get the best for the team. We were defensively minded right at the beginning of the year when we sat down and wrote down some targets and goals”.
The first goal that the team came up with is that they wanting to be the best defensive team in the country, which you could say they proved that at the nationals.
“We had three teams that didn’t score over 60, we only had two teams who scored in the 70s and no teams scored over 75 against us. In terms of our defensive effort that where our foundation lies” Bublitz said.
Throughout the tournament senior players including Corbin Giddy, Max Anderson and Thane O’Leary played their part throughout the week.
O’Leary then went onto be selected in the tournament team, with Bublitz admitting he played a pivotal role in the tournament.
“He’s in the New Zealand U19 set up. He’s been sniffing around higher honours for a couple of years now.
“His strengths are really his defensive play, he’s really smart, knows where to be and knows how to get the best out of others in the team too. His role was a pivotal one for us”.
Offensively, Bublitz credited O’Leary’s vision to put people into space too.
Those other players including Giddy was vital on attack scoring an average of 20 points per game during the tournament being a threat with Anderson being the ‘glue guy’ who worked very hard on both attack and defensively.
Bublitz said the side was off in the semi-final against the hosts with Palmerston North doing a good job by taking away New Plymouth’s attacking options.
“Palmy did a good job by shutting us down, we had to try and find other ways to score but unfortunately it wasn’t to be”.
“Offensively we were off, we didn’t shoot the ball very well at all and that cost us I think” he said.
But defensively the side played well only letting Palmerston North score 50-odd points but it was at the other end which let the side down.
Bublitz was impressive by the coverage with games streamed on the Maori Television’s website after only playing highlights in previous years.
“To live stream it and to also go live was excellent. It’s great for basketball.
Bublitz believes basketball is growing in New Zealand which has been helped by making the sport more accessible and popular.
“Hopefully it continues [the coverage] because it can only be good for sponsorship and people getting on board and supporting basketball a little bit more”.
And from the coverage four players were snapped up by Division 1 schools in the United States last year with big opportunities for young players with American scouts at the recent nationals.
“There’s opportunities now and it’s not even professional it’s for kids to go to the States to get free education and play basketball. If they can pick up free education for four gets and get to play basketball, it’s very valuable” Bublitz said.
But moving forward Bublitz is assisting with the New Zealand U17 for their next campaign but he will probably coach a junior group with a good rotation policy with other coaches.
“I have got some good young coaches at Boys High now who want to step up and help. So it’s making sure they get opportunities as well” he said.
NPBHS 2016 national tournament results
Beat Christs College (Christchurch) 73-55
Beat St Patrick’s Town (Wellington) 68-60
Beat Nelson College 74-69
Beat Auckland Grammar School 82-74
Beat Mount Albert Grammar School (Auckland) 81-53
Beat Kelston Boys High School (Auckland) 84-75
Lost Palmerston North Boys High School 59-53
Third v Fourth play-off:
Beat Auckland Grammar School 63-56
Points for: 515
Points against: 445
Click here to listen to the full interview
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