During their long and proud sporting history, Mount Albert Grammar School has forged a reputation as one of the strongest rugby, football and netball schools in New Zealand.
Basketball is another code to add to the list if results in 2018 are anything to go by. After nine rounds of the Auckland basketball premierships, MAGS are joint leaders in the boys competition and second in the girls championship.
The senior girls roster at MAGS boasts undeniable pedigree with the niece of NBA star Steven Adams featured in the squad. Sharne Pupuke-Robati is a New Zealand Under-17 representative who is proud and humble about her famous uncle.
“My uncle has been a great influence in basketball and in general, but like any other family member he tells me to put my academics before basketball,” Pupuke-Robati acclaims.
Pupuke-Robati’s combination of focus and athletic ability has helped MAGS to a 7-2 record this season. In their most recent outing, Pupuke-Robati scored a game high 24 points in a 98-61 thrashing of Carmel College. MAGS were fifth at Nationals last year.
“We really want to do well this year as there are four year 13’s in the team. We all bring different strengths to the team which has created a strong culture and balance,” Pupuke-Robati asserts.
MAGS have been building strength for some time. Pupuke-Robati identifies some of her favourite matches from school were at a time when MAGS wasn't regarded as a national contender.
“Two years ago at Nationals we made it to the finals after being put into the pool of death. We had to play off against two of the best teams in New Zealand on day one and beat both Westlake and St Mary's who had won their zones. We were fifth in our zone. It was great to perform as strongly as the underdogs,” Pupuke-Robati reflects.
MAGS have dropped two games this season. Auckland Girls’ Grammar are unbeaten and Westlake Girls’ are a perennial contender.
“Westlake and Grammar are the hardest teams we have faced this season. They are both very strong teams inside and outside of the paint which wasn't easy for us because we aren't the tallest team. We learned a lot from those games and are in better shape having faced strong teams before the regionals,” Pupuke-Robati observes.
Pupuke-Robati will face stiff opposition in July as a member of the New Zealand Under-17 team headed to the FIBA World Championships in Belarus. New Zealand is attending the tournament for the first time.
“Being apart of the New Zealand team is an amazing opportunity. My role will be to step up as a leader for the girls because I was in the team who qualified for the tournament last year. Our goals are to win have fun and wear that fern proud,” Pupuke-RobatI enthuses.
Pupuke-RobatI is accustomed to winning having also been a member of the all-conquering MAGS premier netball team.
“I am a shooter. My best achievement is probably is being apart of the 2015 team which won the National Secondary School title. It was a massive learning experience for me being one of the babies on the bench and learning things from Maia Wilson whose now a Silver Fern,” Pupuke-Robati recalls.
The MAGS boys team were third at the National Secondary Schools championships last year and this week became the first team in 2018 to beat defending National champions Rosmini College.
Mt Albert had only scored 42 points at the three-quarter mark (leading 42-39) but exploded for 34 points in the final period to beat Rosmini 76-63. Ryan Laumatia, having been kept quiet by Rosmini up until that point scored 13 of his 17 points in the fourth. Aided by a couple of threes from Sataan Tawera and 8 points from Nate Wilson MAGS closed out the game for a seventh straight win.
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