“We got into New York and a few of the boys had shorts and jandals on. It was -14 degrees,” Kalib Mullins laughs when reflecting on the initial culture shock experienced by the Rotorua Boys’ High School basketball team on their recent US tour.
For a fortnight 22 students, including the senior A team, traveled through New York, Boston and Philadelphia playing basketball and absorbing as much of the local culture as possible.
The Rotorua players were split into two teams. Each team won three out of five games against American high schools. The style of play and the environments in which the fixtures were contested were vastly different from home.
“The first game we played was against the Gators in New York. We were interrogated by security and put in the tenth gym at the school,” Mullins recalls.
“The facilities were amazing, the crowds got stuck in, but the style of play was quite individual and fast. In New Zealand we tend to share the ball more. In the US each school has one or two star players.”
Rotorua’s top team won that first game by a point and generally surprised Americans with their talent, tenacity and of course the haka.
“I think the haka freaked them out a bit,” Mullins chuckled.
“They were surprised at how big and physical we were. We were determined to compete and try and win every game.”
Rotorua Boys' basketball director Theo Tait confirmed this sentiment in the Rotorua Daily Post.
“A lot of the kids at the schools we played had never heard of New Zealand before and if they did, it was all about rugby. I think overall, we woke them up a bit on the basketball side, we have some really talented boys.”
Mullins himself is a 6 ft 6 power forward in Year 13. He enjoys bustling inside the key, but has developed a longer range shooting game. His ambitions for Rotorua are high. The US trip is not intended to be a ‘rest on our laurels’ junket.
“We’ve got a real good brotherhood and great coaches. Our goal is to keep working hard and try and win the National championship,” Mullins warns.
Rotorua were 16th at Nationals last year but in 2015 finished fourth, narrowly losing the semi-final to eventual champions Rangitoto College. Rotorua’s present coach Mark Elers was involved with that 2015 campaign with his son Logan Elers earning a scholarship to the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.
Rotorua saw plenty of top class talent in the US attending the following NBA games:
Philadelphia 76ers v San Antonio Spurs
New York Knicks v Miami Heat
Boston Celtics v Brooklyn Nets
“Going to the NBA was amazing. In Philadelphia they put us in a corporate box which was like, ‘no way,’" Elers said.
“The level of competitiveness is something to really aspire to. I think that was the biggest lesson I learned.”
Learning the history of the sport was also an invaluable lesson. In Massachusetts the boys visited the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame while in Manhattan they stepped on to the floor of the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden.
“That was huge. Madison Square Garden has so much history and it’s not just sport, it’s music and everything else.” Elers marveled.
Rotorua performed a haka to honour Kiwi Ross McMains who is part of the Knicks coaching team there.
Each boy had to pay $6500 to make the trip. A year of fundraising occurred, but Mullins reached his target quickly.
“My father used some his rugby connections to help auction off an autographed Maori All Blacks centenary jersey. We got seven and a half grand for that,” Mullins explains.
“I saved half for myself and put the rest in a team fund.”
Kalib’s father Mike Mullins played 116 games for Munster and 16 tests for Ireland.
Two young Kiwi talents have been selected for the prestigious Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Global Camp in the United States. It will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina, 15-17 February.
Tall Fern and 2019 St Peter's School head girl Charlisse Leger-Walker has become the first-ever female from New Zealand to be selected, while Junior Tall Black and Westlake Boys’ High School student Sam Mennenga has also been called up.
Run in partnership by the NBA and FIBA, there have been 56 BWB camps in 35 cities in 28 countries on six continents since 2001. Of the BWB alumni, 53 have been drafted into the NBA. The most recent NBA Draft in 2018 saw two former BWB Global participants selected in the top 11 picks.
FIBA and the NBA have announced the top 63 boys and girls from 31 countries and regions who will attend.
This is the fifth BWB Global Camp, where players are selected ‘based on their outstanding basketball skills and leadership abilities’. While a small selection of Kiwis are often invited to attend the BWB Asia Camp each year, through a Basketball New Zealand and FIBA talent identification process, the BWB Global Camp is an even tougher club to be in.
The Global is offered to invite-only attendees who are considered the best in their age-group from around the world. It includes being hosted and trained by NBA and WNBA stars, and coincides with the chance to attend the NBA All Star game and to meet the stars.
Leger-Walker, who played a big role in helping the Tall Ferns secure a Bronze Medal at the 2019 Commonwealth Games this year, says this invitation is a great privilege and one she’s looking forward to.
“I expect to be challenged by coaches who have experience at a high level and maybe even on an international stage. This opportunity is very exciting because it will allow me to learn and grow as a player, and it will also enable me to identify what I will need to work on to add to my skill set. Plus it is also around the NBA All Stars game, so I might get to watch some of that!”
Sam Mennenga was selected to be a part of the Junior Tall Blacks in the 2018 Asia championships in Thailand where the team placed second and qualified for the FIBA World Championships, which will be held in Greece July 2019. The 17 year old says this camp is a big deal due to the opportunity to play against the best high school players in the world.
“I am excited about the Camp because I will be able to meet some NBA players and attend the NBA All-Star Game. I am also excited to learn from the coaches to help improve my game and get me to the next level.
“My goal in Basketball is to eventually make it to the NBA. To complete this goal I hope to go to America next year on a scholarship and play college basketball,” says Mennenga.
Leger-Walker says she’s looking forward to making new connections and friends from all over the world whilst learning more about the game. The youngest-ever Tall Ferns says she’s enjoyed a summer holiday from St. Peters Cambridge School and has taken a small break from the court. As part of that holiday, she and her family went to Colorado to visit older sister Krystal (also a Tall Fern).
“In terms of training I haven’t been playing much basketball, just doing my own trainings to stay in shape and fit. Occasionally I will get into a gym and get shots up and get in a good workout. When I was in the US, I would train with my older sister as they (the University of Northern Colorado) are in season at the moment. However, these next few weeks I will be getting back into basketball a bit more so I can start training for the camp and also 3x3 for school that is coming up soon,” says Leger-Walker.
2019 NBA All-Stars Nikola Jokić (Denver Nuggets; Serbia) and Nikola Vučević (Orlando Magic; Montenegro), 2018 No. 1 overall draft pick and former BWB camper Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns; Bahamas; BWB Global 2016), and 2017-18 All Rookie Second Team member Bogdan Bogdanović (Sacramento Kings; Serbia) will coach the top high school age campers from Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe. They will be joined by a number of former NBA veterans and US College coaches.
All participants will take part in basketball positional development, strength and conditioning, life skills sessions, and games and competitions during the day, followed by visits to NBA All Star events in the evening. NBA and FIBA players and coaches will coach the participants of the camp. NIKE is the presenting partner for the camp, and each camper will be provided with NIKE basketball shoes, uniforms, and other apparel. Participants’ flights, ground transportation, food, lodging and insurance during the camp will also be provided.
Basketball is now the second most-participated secondary-school sport after a massive 44.9% increase in players this decade.
Over a quarter more secondary school students are playing basketball than they were just five years ago, while volleyball has also seen a five percent increase in playing numbers in the same time period to be the fifth most popular sport.
Netball is New Zealand’s most popular sport by playing numbers despite a 7 percent shift away from playing numbers in the past five years.
More teenagers are playing netball and basketball than rugby, which has seen a 12 percent decline in playing numbers in this time.
The School Sport New Zealand Census shows a total of 26,481 secondary school students played for a basketball team at school in 2018.
The annual School Sport New Zealand Census just released, which details annual secondary-school participation rates since 2000.
The full Census can be found on the New Zealand Secondary School website here http://www.nzsssc.org.nz/newsarticle/72852?newsfeedId=51035
Hockey (+4 percent) and badminton (+9 percent) were also growth sports between 2014-18.
See below for the top 10 table of sports by participation in New Zealand.
Basketball New Zealand Chief Executive Iain Potter says two of the big reasons for this growth include an increasingly diverse national-population and the creation of opportunities to play, but he says the growth is less than what it could be.
“This growth is not a surprise for us. We’ve seen the growth of this participation-trend since the Census began.
“There’s been some great work by the basketball community to foster the opportunities for kids to play, but we could have achieved so much more if the support from central government, the Ministry of Education, local councils and funders corresponded with this vast growth. Basketball-participation has almost doubled in just ten years, whereas basketball’s funding certainly hasn’t,” said Potter.
Potter says the rise in participation correlates with the access to facilities, coaching, and the introduction of basketball opportunities at schools and communities, but he says that good work is not enough to give Kiwi kids the opportunities they are crying out for.
“To play, kids need opportunities with a ball, coach and a court. This relentless growth has seen basketball facilities become prime real-estate, with court bookings bursting. And the majority of our Associations are at their wits-end trying to get enough support to provide coaches, referees, and venues for their players and leagues.”
Potter said New Zealand is a different country than it was in the year 2010 and that the change in demographics also impacts basketball participation.
“Another big reason is the increase in this country’s ethnic diversity. Basketball is a global game that is the preferred sport for many people across many different ethnicities. As the populations of those ethnicities grow in New Zealand, so does basketball participation. We are fortunate to see young players of all backgrounds stepping onto our courts. Basketball in New Zealand caters for kiwis of all races, creeds and both genders,” says Potter.
The Census includes all students that had a meaningful engagement in each sport in the school setting. For example: represented the school in that sport OR took part in a sport provided in-school over a period of six weeks or more OR played for a club arranged by the school as the school had no teams in that sport OR took part in sport that was provided through the KIWISPORT initiative. The Census does NOT include students that took part in 'one off' in-school events such as school athletics / swimming sports or short term interform/house events.
The New Zealand U15 boys and girls teams have officially qualified for the U16 FIBA Asian Championship next year, following their victories on Day Four at the Oceania Championship in Papua New Guinea.
The boys took down Samoa in their matchup, winning 105-63. Yet again, it was another total team effort to get the job done. Tafara Gapare totaled a team-high 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field and 1-of-2 from three. Joshua Book scored 14 points with three 3-pointers, while Levick Kerr and Ethan Skelton each scored 11. New Zealand dominated the battle on the glass, outrebounding Samoa 64-38.
They’re the only unbeaten team at the Oceania Championship and will look to secure a gold medal with a win over Australia later today. The two teams met just days ago in the group stage, and it was New Zealand coming away with a 59-57 win.
The girls played tremendous defence in their 86-27 win over Fiji. Zaaliyah Kailahi-Fulu continued her stellar play with 20 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the field. Alana Paewai chipped in 11 points with six steals, while Missy Nuku was productive with eight points, eight rebounds and six steals. New Zealand shot 45.2 per cent from the field and held Fiji to just 23.5 per cent (12-of-51). They also forced Fiji to commit a whopping 48 turnovers.
Like the boys, they’ll have a date with Australia in the gold medal game. Australia came away with the 94-34 win in the first meeting, but New Zealand will not shy away from the challenge.
Select games are being live streamed on the FIBA website. You can find more info here: http://www.fiba.basketball/oceania/u15/2018.
Kruz Perrott-Hunt has become the latest young Kiwi to secure an NCAA Division I University basketball scholarship.
In the same week he was named in the Tall Blacks squad for the next FIBA World Cup Qualifying window, the Rosmini College guard has committed to the University of South Dakota (USD) under the tutorage of Head Coach Todd Lee. The Coyotes play in the Summit League Conference and also have Brad Davidson on their coaching staff.
Davidson will be well known to basketball fans that follow the Australian National Basketball League. The shooting guard played 13 years in the NBL League and ranks as one of the all-time best shooters with a 40.1 percent career mark from long range. He made more than 600 3-point baskets during his career.
Davidson’s presence on the coaching staff was just one of the reasons Kruz has committed to USD.
“Coach Davidson was a terrific shooter and I’m sure his knowledge will help me refine my shooting game. On my visit to USD I was really impressed with the coaching set-up, the facilities and the atmosphere around the team and the campus.
“I think it will be an ideal environment for me to pursue my academic studies as well as develop as a player.
“I’m looking forward to joining my Coyote teammates in 2019 and wish them well for the current season,” said Kruz.
He has achieved a great deal in his burgeoning basketball career but he says none of it would have been possible without the support of his parents Angela and Matt, as well as the many coaches that have helped him on his journey to date.
“I have been fortunate to have been able to learn from so many good coaches during the last few years whether at school, for North Harbour or undertaking individual training. Many people have helped me to this point, but in particular I want to thank Dave Mackay, Tony Pompallier, Mike Fitchett, Alex Stojkovic and Matt Lacey for the countless hours they have spent helping me achieve my goals,” said Kruz.
Long time coach, mentor and friend Dave Mackay has witnessed first-hand the growth of Kruz as a player and person.
“It is extremely pleasing to see Kruz take this next step in his basketball journey. Having coached and mentored Kruz since he was 11, he has always strived to play college basketball and this year in particular he has really excelled his game. South Dakota is a great fit for him, somewhere I believe he will get to play and make an instant impact. Having Brad Davidson as the Assistant Coach is a real bonus and someone I believe will assist him in furthering his game, in particular his shooting ability,” said Mackay.
The announcement caps an outstanding year in which the 17-year old (he turns 18 later this month) has earned a Tall Blacks call-up, a silver medal at the FIBA Asia Cup, a SKYCITY Breakers Development Players spot and an invitation to the Nike Asia Camp in China where he received the Best Defensive Player award.
In addition he capped off a stellar high school career by captaining Rosmini College, as they became back-to-back Schick Secondary Schools National Champions.
Kruz was called into the Tall Blacks training squad ahead of the FIBA World Cup qualifiers against Hong Kong and China in June. He has again received the nod from coach Paul Henare ahead of the upcoming Qualifiers against Jordan in Christchurch on 29 November and Syria in Wellington on 2 December.
Kruz was a key player for New Zealand at the U18 Asia Cup in August in Thailand where the Kiwis finished second behind Australia to earn them a trip to the FIBA U19 World Cup next year. He averaged 13.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.7 steals per game during the tournament.
The 190cm combo-guard capped off his five-year premier team career at Rosmini by leading his team in its defence of the National Championship title last month. Selected to the National Championship Tournament Team for a third successive year, Kruz was within a whisker of a triple-double in the Final against St Pat’s producing 29 points, 11 rebounds and 9 steals in a commanding performance.
A North Harbour player throughout his representative career he was also named to the Tournament Team at the U19 National Championships back in June.
Despite missing a significant number of days at school this year due to his basketball commitments the year 13 student has passed NCEA Level 3 and also received the top Maori Student Award at Rosmini College.
Kruz is from an accomplished basketball family with mum Angela a well-respected schools and representative coach, and sister Georgia on a basketball scholarship at Tiffin University in Ohio.
Basketball produced two dominant winners of the National Secondary School Championships with Rosmini College defending their 2017 boys crown and St Peter’s Cambridge cleaning up the girls competition for the third time in four years.
There was a Tall Fern and Tall Black among our high school elitte and huge interest in a sport that’s rapidly becoming the most popular code for New Zealand’s youth.
Our contenders are below for our fourth annual Champion of Champions series – vote in the poll - scroll down below.
Mitchell Dance (Rosmini College) - The prolific scoring New Zealand Under-17 forward was named National Secondary Schools MVP for a second year in a row after guiding Rosmini to repeat National titles. Dance scored 20 points in the final against St Pats Town. At the FIBA Under-17 World championships in Argentina, Dance helped New Zealand to an inaugural victory at the event (62-57 over China) and was the Kiwis leading scorer averaging 15.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
Charlisse Leger-Walker (St Peter’s Cambridge) - At 16 years of age, Ledger Walker became the youngest ever selection for the Tall Ferns and wasn’t merely in the squad to make up the numbers. At the Commonwealth Games in April, Ledger-Walker top scored with 18 points as New Zealand beat Canada 74-58 to win the bronze medal game. Ledger-Walker’s other international assignment was at the FIBA Under-17 World Championships where Leger-Walker headed the Kiwi stats averaging 15.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. At the domestic level in New Zealand Leger-Walker remained a bully of all opponents winning a second consecutive National Secondary Schools MVP award and top scoring with 35 points in the 92-51 win over Hutt Valley High School in the final.
Leah Mafua (Hutt Valley High School) - For the first time in five years Hutt Valley High School won the Wellington title and made it all the way through to the Zone 3 and National finals, finishing runners up in each game. Mafua had an outstanding season top scoring in the Wellington final and making the tournament team at Nationals, scoring 22 points in the final and 40 points in a single game against Tauranga Girls’ College. Mafua, a New Zealand Under-17 representative, is unsurprisingly bound for the US collegiate system on scholarship next year.
Kruz Perrott-Hunt (Rosmini College) - In June the impressive guard joined the likes of Rob Loe, Tai Webster, Jack Salt, Tai Wynyard, Isaac Fotu and Izayah Mauriohooho Le'Afa as a schoolboy to be selected for the Tall Blacks. Additionally Perrott-Hunt is a North Harbour and New Zealand Under-19 representative and was a key leader for Rosmini in winning the Auckland, Zone I and National titles. In the National final Perrott-Hunt top scored with 29 points.
Sharne Pupuke-Robati (Mount Albert Grammar School) - MAGS have only lost twice in the Auckland Premiership in the past two seasons. Cruelly one of those defeats was in the 2018 final to Mount Albert Grammar School, 59-52. Pupuke-Robati, niece of NBA star Steven Adams, was the telling factor scoring a team high 21 points. Pupuke-Robati, a nomination for College Sport Auckland basketballer of the year, was a member of the New Zealand Under-17 representative team who competed in the FIBA World Championships for the first time. Pupuke-Robati enjoyed a productive tournament averaging 9 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists per game.
Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones (St Pat's Town) - Transferring from Rongotai College, Tait-Jones drove Town to greater heights than anybody expected in 2018. Town became the first Wellington boys team in a decade to make the final of National’s with Tait-Jones the main factor exploding for 35 points in the quarter final against Hamilton Boys High School before scoring 23 points and collecting 12 rebounds in the semi-final against St John's College, Hamilton. Tait-Jones was Town’s leading scorer in the finals of the Wellington competition, piling 40 points on Scots College in the semi-final and amassing 24 against Rongotai in the final. Tait-Jones attended the inaugural Steven Adams basketball camp for the leading 20 age group players in New Zealand.
Who would be your Basketball Player of the Year? Vote in the poll below
2017: Grace Hunter (St Mary’s College)
2016: Callum McRae (Palmerston North BHS)
2015: Logan Elers (Rotorua BHS)/Krystal Leger-Walker (St Peter’s Cambridge)
Basketball New Zealand has named the New Zealand Boys’ and Girls’ basketball teams to compete in the FIBA Oceania U15 Championships in December this year, to be held in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
This comes after a selection camp held over Labour Weekend.
The Australian team will again step into the FIBA Oceania event as favourites for the Boys competion. Yet the Junior Tall Blacks did win the U18 Oceania event in 2016. That example proved the young Kiwi teams can match that level, and this Under 15 New Zealand team has the chance to make history by being the first U15 Kiwi team to do so.
“The FIBA Oceania Under 15 Championships will be a new and exciting experience for our group,” said Head coach Morgan Maskell Australia will be a very tough opponent as per usual, but the programmes in Guam and Samoa are on the rise and will also present a challenge to us at the tournament as well.”
Girls Head Coach Natalie Visger, says it was tough to narrow the team to 12 players.
“This was a very prepared group coming into camp, super switched-on and competitive. Girls in New Zealand are starting to choose basketball earlier and it showed at camp with their ability to shoot the ball.
“This is a different group than last year’s. We lack some length in certain spots, but will make up for it with resilience and tenacity for 94 feet. We have some shooters, some versatile forwards, and kids that can attack the rim. I like the speed and versatility that we have. Pace won’t be an issue for us. This group has high character and that means a lot.
“Heading to PNG to compete with this group will be an adventure and we will continue to improve as we go on this journey together. Our goal is to develop these young ladies and to do our best to qualify for the Asia Champs in 2019,” says Coach Visger.
The two teams listed below.
New Zealand Under 15 Boys:
· Jett Thompson - North Harbour Basketball
· Reegan Trego - NZ
· Sataan Poutasi Tiare Tawera - Basketball Auckland
· Joshua Book - Nelson Basketball
· Zach Riley - North Harbour Basketball
· Ethan Skelton - Waitakere West Auckland Basketball Inc.
· Junior James De Young - Te Aroha Basketball
· Hunter Adam - Canterbury Basketball
· Akiva McBirney-Griffin - Waikato Basketball Council
· Benjamin Gold - Wellington Basketball
· Tafara Gapare - Wellington Basketball
· Levic Kerr - Basketball Auckland
· Max Abbot - Wellington Basketball
· Piripi Tapsell - Wellington Basketball
· Wairehu Waata - Basketball Hawke's Bay
· Oscar Hickey - NZ
· Morgan Maskell - Head Coach
· Darron Larsen - Assistant Coach
· Brent Matehaere - Assistant Coach
· Leanne Barrett – Manager
New Zealand Under 15 Girls:
· Alana Paewai - Waikato Basketball
· Hineaupounamu Nuku - Tauranga City Basketball
· Simone Barnard - North Harbour Basketball
· Melika Samia - Basketball Hawke's Bay
· Reece Anderson - Waikato Basketball
· Riana Matiseni - Waitakere West Auckland Basketball Inc.
· Breeje Schuler - Te Aroha Basketball
· Florence Dallow - North Harbour Basketball
· Emma Pugh - Hibiscus Coast Basketball Association
· Zaaliyah Kailahi-Fulu - North Harbour Basketball
· Vitolia Tuilave - Tauranga City Basketball
· Sera Taei - Basketball Auckland
· Makenzee Boucher - North Harbour Basketball
· Te Arani Te Puni - Manawatu Basketball
· Taiana Day - Tauranga City Basketball
· Dekoda Roberts - Rotorua Basketball
· Visger Natalie - Head Coach
· Samson Kaea - Assistant Coach
· Reed Justine - Assistant Coach
· Kaan Glenda - Manager
The Junior Tall Ferns head to Bengaluru, India this week to compete in the 2018 FIBA U18 Asian Championship.
Sixteen teams are equally divided into A and B Divisions. New Zealand are in Pool B of the A Division drawn alongside Malaysia, defending champions China and 2016 silver medalists Japan.
Pool A is made up of Australia, Korea, Chinese Taipei and Indonesia.
The top four teams will represent Asia at the 2019 FIBA U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup.
The Junior Tall Ferns open their campaign against Japan at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on 28 October (tip-off 1:15am 29 October, NZ time).
New Zealand will be led by Charlisse Leger-Walker playing at her third major tournament in 2018.
Leger-Walker was a member of the Tall Ferns silver medal winning team at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April. In July, she led the New Zealand scoring at the FIBA U17 World Cup in Belarus averaging 15.1 points per game.
Also backing up from the U17 World Cup is Leger-Walker’s Waikato teammate Ella Bradley and Harbour guard Tayla Dalton.
Leger-Walker, Bradley and Dalton also have experience of playing in Bangaluru. All three played at the FIBA U16 Asian Championship twelve months ago. Harbour guard Tessa Talo-Tomokino also made that trip, as did Head Coach Jody Cameron.
Coach Cameron says that tournament a year ago means she has some clarity of what to expect during this trip.
“It will be a challenge with the long travel and a short turnaround before our first game. It’s not ideal but it’s what you make of it, and being Kiwis we will make the best of the situation and certainly won’t be making excuses. We don’t have the luxury of resources that some teams have, but we do have the luxury of having mature dedicated individuals that know what is required. A lot of the team has experience playing in FIBA tournaments, so now have an understanding of what is required at the international level. They are looking forward to the challenge,” said Cameron.
Cameron thinks having former Tall Ferns teammate Leanne Walker as one of her assistant coaches is extremely advantageous. The pair were both on the New Zealand team that attended the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
“We get on really well. I’ve learnt a lot from Leanne, both when I was playing and now as a coach. She has an immense understanding of the game, and a vast amount of knowledge and experience. She understands time frames, competition and what is required at tournaments. She has won so many titles in New Zealand and it’s great to have someone like that at your side. We have a great working relationship,” added Cameron.
Four players return to international duty having last played for New Zealand at the 2017 FIBA U17 Oceania Championship in Guam. Grace Hunter, Leah Mafua (both Wellington), Olivia O’Neill (Otago) and Charlotte Whittaker (Canterbury) all played key roles as the Kiwi’s secured silver medals at that championship.
Harbour guard Emme Shearer earns a call-up after some outstanding performances for the New Zealand U16 team last year.
Coach Cameron hands debuts to Rochelle Fourie, Koha Lewis and Sofia Kennedy.
Lewis has been a consistent performer in Waikato age-group teams in recent seasons and Fourie was outstanding at the Schick Secondary Schools National Championships recently, earning Tournament MVP recognition as Manukura claimed the Girls ‘A’ title.
Kennedy is set to become, like Shearer, a dual international. The Canterbury guard having represented New Zealand at the World Schools Cross Country Championships in Paris in April. Shearer played volleyball for New Zealand earlier in the year.
For all information regarding the draw, live statistics and live streaming go to
Fans will be able to watch all the games live on FIBA’s Facebook (Facebook.com/FIBA) page and Youtube.com/FIBA channel.
2018 Aon Junior Tall Ferns:
“We faced them three times before the final and despite winning each time I told my team we can’t take anything for granted,” Leah Mafua recalls when addressing her Hutt Valley High School (HVHS) basketball team prior to the Sharp Cup final against Queen Margaret College (QMC).
HVHS surged to a 32-17 lead midway through the second quarter, but a 15-2 QMC run leveled proceedings by halftime. In the final two quarters the lead changed frequently with Mafua scoring a game high 24 points. However there was an anxious moment with 15 seconds left.
HVHS led 67-65 when Mafua missed a second free throw. Heroically Jasmine Troke sneered the rebound and with urgent support managed to waste seven seconds before Jordan Rangitawa was fouled. When Rangitawa connected with both shots, the QMC title challenge was finally extinguished.
“It was a team effort to win the Championship. We knew QMC would come out hard. They have too many good players not to,” Mafua acclaims.
It was the first time since 2013 HVHS won the Wellington tittle, a great achievement for longtime coach Brian Yee.
“Brian’s been a great coach. He’s got a great understanding of the game and rapport with the girls. Our improvement throughout the season has been massive,” Mafua enthused.
HVHS won further acclaim at the Zone 3 regionals finishing in second place, losing the final 68-79 to Sacred Heart Girls’ College, New Plymouth. Better was to come at Nationals.
After an initial stumble against St Peter’s Cambridge, HVHS beat Wellington Girls’ College (78-58), St Andrew’s College (74-59), Otago Girls’ High School (72-39) and Tauranga Girls’ College (75-57) with Mafu dropping a season high 40 points in that clash to win a place in the preliminary quarter final against Rangitoto College who were conquered 80-72, before Hamilton Girls’ High School was sent packing 76-69.
In the semi-final HVHS produced a 25-13 opening salvo, with 14 of the points from Mafua,who finished with 32 overall in a 87-60 wn.
“I think the semi-final was our best game. I can’t really put into words what happend. Everybody clicked,” Mafua said.
There have been an abundance of superlatives used to describe the play of Tall Fern Charlisse Leger-Walker this season and the St Peter’s Cambridge gun didn’t disappoint in the final scoring 35 points in a 92-51 win for the Waikato powerhouse. Mafua tried to keep her side in the contest scoring 22 points but concedes St Peter’s was too strong.
“Charlisse is a great player. I’ve faced her a few times and it’s always a great challenge.
Making it into the top two in the country is something I’m really proud of. I think the girls can hang their heads up high,” Mafua reflects.
Mafua started competitive sport as a goal attack in netball, but switched to basketball in Year 10 making the First V in her debut season.
In 2019, Mafua is hoping to join the likes of former student Stella Beck in the US on a scholarship. Where she might be based stateside has yet to be determined.
“It was awesome to finish second in New Zealand. Nobody expected us to even make the Nationals,” Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones marvels when reflecting on the performance of the St Patrick’s College, Wellington basketball team at Nationals last week.
Town were runners up in Wellington and only fourth in the Zone 3 tourney, but punched well above their weight in in Palmerston North.
An impressive 102-87 win first up against Waimea College was followed by a 59-92 hiding at the hands of Napier Boys’ High School. Town rolled Tauranga Boys’ College as expected 92-70 before dropping their next fixture (74-90) against South Island Regional champions, Cashmere High School. It was a setback that proved invaluable for Town.
“Cashmere was a really good game. They were a tough side and we completed the whole time. We had a couple of bad patches, but we showed we could compete with the top teams,” Tait-Jones reflects.
Town ensured they would have a shot at the playoffs by accounting for McLeans College 77-60 which established a meeting in the preliminary quarter final against Hastings Boys’ High School.
“We were pretty confident we could beat Hastings and did for the fourth time this year. We’re a run and gun team and Hastings aren’t as fit as us so if we could play our team we know we could outlast them,” Tait-Jones reveals.
Hamilton Boys’ High School convincingly conquered Wellington champions Rongotai College in pool play. Tait-Jones had to be at his very best to deny the Zone 2 champions.
“The Hamilton game was my best game of the tournament. I scored 35 points and got a triple-double. I had to mark their Junior Tall Black Maxim Stephens whose bigger than me, but he only got 19 points on me. Everybody stepped up. It was a massive win,” Tait-Jones explains.
St John’s College, Hamilton was another bigger team than Town and presented a massive challenge in the semi-final. Despite being out-rebounded 21-6 on the offensive end and trailing often, Town pulled off a 70-69 win to make the National final for the first time in a decade. Tait-Jones scored 23 pulls and reigned in 12 rebounds.
“We just had to grind it out. We knew if we could stay in touch and hit some shots we were a chance,” Tait-Jones said.
Filimone Waqabaca came up big with 17 points, the same tally he collected in the final.
“Filimone made some big shots and had a great week,” Tait-Jones acclaimed.
The final wasn’t so great for Town. Reigning champions Rosmini College were resounding victors.
“It was awesome to just make the final. We would like to have been more competitive, but we had nothing left in the tank. I was struggling with my quad and Rosmini are an exceptional team and you have to be totally on to beat them,” Tait-Jones concedes.
Tait-Jones was selected for the tournament team alongside Jeremiah Savali, the only Wellington players to make the cut.
Jeremiah was steady all-round. He’s got a big presence inside and we could count on his rebounding and scoring,” Tait-Jones praised.
A North Shore school has won eight of the last ten National championships. It’s little coincidence the New Zealand Breakers are based there.
Town’s result was the best by any Wellington school since they won the National crown in 2008.
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