Tall Ferns preparing for Japan series

Jordan Hunter

The Tall Ferns arrived in Christchurch on Sunday afternoon weary but content following their week long excursion to the William Jones Cup in Taiwan.

The Kiwis finished on a high at the tournament defeating an American Select team 79-54 in their final game on Friday.

This week the Tall Ferns play the Japanese national team in the Christchurch Casino International Women’s Basketball Series in Canterbury.

Japan has just completed a three test series against Australia last week where they recorded two losses and one win, losing Game one 86-65 and Game two 84-64 but winning Game three in Ballarat 76-75. These results are more than respectable considering the Australian Opals are a basketball power house, ranked number two on the FIBA world rankings.

These upcoming games will give Tall Ferns Coach Kennedy Kereama some great insight as to how his team will stack up against the Opals the following week when they meet in the Oceania Championships for a place at the Rio Olympics.

Kereama is looking forward to this home series and beyond.

“Overall the tour to the William Jones Cup was a good experience for the team, each game has had its own challenges. We have had a great opportunity to build on our style of play and now we are all looking forward to bringing the team to Canterbury to play against a very good Japanese National Team. “

“The tour and this home series give us a very good insight into what we are up against once Oceania merges with Asia in 2017. I believe with more time with this squad we are going to be regular competitors at World Cups and Olympic Games in the future.”

The Japanese Women are coached by Tomohide Utsumi and are currently ranked 15th in the world by FIBA, compared with New Zealand’s ranking of 22nd.

At last year’s FIBA World Championship the Japanese team finished a respectable 14th after winning the FIBA Asia Championships the year before.

Expect the Japanese to rely heavily on the three point shot. In game three against the Opals they connected on 13 of 20 attempts from beyond the three-point arc.

For his part Paul Duggan the General Manager of Canterbury Basketball Association is excited about the week ahead.

“The Japan test series is a great opportunity to have a showcase event to promote both the sport and the city. This will be the first International basketball played in Christchurch for over 10 years, and will provide some exciting and faced paced women’s basketball action.”

“Christchurch and Japan have some strong links, including the Sister City relationship with Kurashiki, a strong tourism and exporting market, and are also intrinsically linked through the tragic events of the Christchurch earthquake.”

Groups will attend the first test on Wednesday August 5th from almost 50 local schools and the third test at the EA Centre, Ashburton is sold out

Tickets for the game at Cowles Stadium, Christchurch on Friday August 2nd, 7pm tip-off, are still available.

Book now: http://bit.ly/1N1ztJz

Braswell signs for Harbour!

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Former SKY CITY Breakers guard Kevin Braswell is joining Harbour Basketball as the Association’s Development Manager and begins his new role in September.

Harbour Basketball CEO John Hunt is delighted with the appointment.

“We are delighted to have acquired the services of Kevin as our Development Manager. Kevin has a proud history as a player with the Georgetown Hoyas, the NZ Breakers and the Southland Sharks, and is making a reputation as being a formidable coach of emerging talent. For the past couple of years we have admired the work the Kevin has done with the Southland basketball community. I know that with Kevin’s help our representative programme will reach the level that we aspire to.”

Braswell recently announced his retirement as a professional player, departing on a high as the Southland Sharks captured the 2015 National Basketball League title. The Sharks defeated the Wellington Saints 89-81 in the Grand Final.

He had played for the Sharks since 2011 helping the franchise win the NBL title for the first time in 2013 before repeating that success this season.

Braswell is best remembered in the Auckland region as the point guard that played a major role as the Sky City Breakers won their inaugural ANBL Championship in the 2010-11 season.

The southpaw guard actually arrived at the Breakers at the back end of the 2009-10 season and took them to the cusp of the play-offs as the team won six of the seven games the American played.

A true point guard with excellent court vision the Baltimore native was dynamic in that Breakers championship winning season. He averaged 10.2 points, 4.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game in a formidable back court that also contained Kirk Penney and two of his good buddies CJ Bruton and Paul Henare.

Braswell graduated from Georgetown University playing 127 games for the Hoyas and finishing his four years as the all time leader in assists and steals at a school that boasts the likes of Patrick Ewing, Allen Iverson and Alonzo Mourning amongst its alumni.

His playing role with the Sharks was also combined with that of Development Manager for Southland Basketball Association.

For his part Braswell is ready for his next challenge.

“Southland will always have a huge place in my heart. Things happen for a reason and it’s now time I move on to new challenges in my life.”

“I’m beyond excited to be a part of the North Harbour coaching staff. I have been developing the talent in the South for the last two years and I’m ready for new challenges. I have many goals that I want to achieve and with the talented kids I’ve watched and the management staff of North Harbour I’m sure we will continue to have more and more  success in the future. I’m very thankful for the opportunity and can’t wait to get started.”

The Harbour basketball community looks to be major beneficiaries of this new challenge.

For Braswell the 6am coaching sessions will continue although it’s likely it won’t be quite as chilly at that time of day in North Shore Events Centre as it was in ILT Stadum, Southland.

Tall Ferns defeated by Korea

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The Tall Ferns were defeated by quality Asian opposition for the third time in as many days at the 37th William Jones Cup in Taiwan, losing 75-56 to South Korea.

Kalani Purcell produced a powerful stats line of 10 points/11 rebounds/2 assists/2 steals/1 block but ultimately 31 turnovers was the undoing of the Ferns.

The highly respected Korean’s, are ranked 12th on the FIBA World rankings, the Tall Ferns 22nd.

Former Waitakere guard Chevannah Paalvast (7pts) was rewarded for a strong showing against Japan the previous day with a spot in the starting five alongside Davidson, Taylor, Cocks and Wallbutton.

The Tall Ferns made a very encouraging start to the game opening up a handy 17-10 first quarter lead, led by 5 points from Micaela Cocks. The much vaunted Korean offence was held to just 3 from 14 from the field in the period.

The Tall Ferns were less impressive in the second period giving up 24 points to trail 34-32 at half-time. Samara Gallaher led the New Zealand scoring with 8 points.

The Korean perimeter shooters found their groove in the second half shooting an extremely efficient 43% (12/28) from beyond the three-point arc. The lead was extended to a dominant 59-46 advantage at the end of the third stanza and 75-56 by full time.

Once again the Kiwis completely dominated the boards winning the rebounding count 44-18 but were once again guilty of committing too many turnovers, 32 in this game on the back of 31 the previous day against Japan.

Point guard Cocks scored 8 points, a total matched by Gallaher who also snared 3 boards and 3 steals. 19 year old Penina Davidson added 9 rebounds to 6 points and fellow forward Lisa Wallbutton chimed in with 6 points and 6 rebounds.

Veteran guard Natalie Taylor was far from despondent about the team’s third consecutive loss.

“We’ve definitely seen encouraging things as a team in this game and improved on areas we have identified in the previous two games but we are still needing consistency to win games”

Tall Ferns coach Kennedy Kereama is also looking beyond this week as he prepares his charges for the Olympic Qualifying series against Australia next month.

“We also understand that it’s about growing as a group and getting better everyday. The goal is to still beat Australia and these games give us the perfect opportunity to work on what’s needed to get that job done.”

Tall Ferns beaten by Japan

Penina Davidson takes a free throw, WBC Championship . Nelson v Waitakere at Edgar Centre Stadium, Dunedin, New Zealand. Saturday 25 August 2012. New Zealand. Photo: Richard Hood/photosport.co.nz

Penina Davidson

Following the loss to Chinese Taipei on the opening day of the 37th William Jones Cup in Taiwan the Tall Ferns took on Japan in the early game on day two. The Tall Ferns fell behind early and were eventually beaten 78-66

The Tall Ferns tweaked the starting line up for this game with guard Stella Beck replacing Samara Gallaher alongside Davidson, Taylor, Cocks and Wallbutton.

Japan took the opening quarter 24-15 shooting the ball at a very efficient clip – 60% (3/5) from beyond the three point arc and 60% (10/17) overall from the floor. The Tall Ferns had seven scorers in the quarter but only forward Penina Davidson (4pts) scored more than one basket.

The Tall Ferns fell further behind in the second period trailing 44-29 at half-time. Davidson led all scorers at the break with 11 points but 15 turnovers in the half really damaged the Fern’s offensive fluency.

The Kiwis enjoyed 17 visits to the foul line as they explored deficiencies in the Japanese interior defence.

The Japanese stretched their lead to 70-44 entering the final period.

The final quarter was more encouraging for the Kiwis as they outscored the opposition 22-8. Davidson led the Ferns scoring with 14 points, centre Megan Craig (8/6 FG) contributed 13 points, 5 rebounds and 4 blocks and Chevannah Paalvast chimed in with 11 points. Rookie Tessa Boagni also scored her first couple of points in international basketball.

The Tall Ferns out rebounded the opposition 40-18 and encouragingly got to the foul line 34 times (scoring on 19 occasions).

But the most glaring and damaging statistic that the coaching staff will want to address is the 31 turnovers committed by the team.

Tall Ferns head coach Kennedy Kereama did confess that matching up against the smaller, quicker Asian teams was presenting some challenges.

“Smaller opposition have really tested our ability to contain. Our forwards were in situations matched up on players quite a bit shorter than them. We are the biggest team at the tournament by 10cm on average, so our zone offence will get tested as we found out last night. We will need to show improvement in this area if we want to come away with some wins here in Taiwan.”

Kereama however is also looking beyond this week as he prepares his charges for the Olympic Qualifying series against Australia next month.

“We also understand that it’s about growing as a group and getting better everyday. The goal is to still beat Australia and these games give us the perfect opportunity to work on what’s needed to get that job done.”

Rosmini defeat Liston

Rosmini_college

Rosmini College entertained Liston College in a Boys Auckland Premier Basketball competition on Friday night.

Both teams had a 5-4 record entering the game and appear to be in a three-way battle for the fourth play-off berth with Onehunga. Westlake, Rangitoto and Auckland Grammar look to have the top three places secured.

Taine Wattie scored a couple of threes in the early exchanges to ease Rosmini to a 19-11 first quarter lead.

Liston captain Logan Yelovich was a constant threat for the visitors and with Jayden Johnston scoring seven straight points late in the half the Rosmini lead was trimmed to just four points, 31-27 at the interval.

Exchanges were even in the third quarter, Rosmini disrupted by having to sit the influential Nathan Curran after picking up his fourth foul but still ahead 47-43 at three quarter time.

Massey opened the final period strongly and a triple from Bailey Rerecich took the visitors into the lead, 48-43. This drew an immediate response from the Saints as Wattie was fouled whilst scoring, knocked down the free throw and then looked on as Kruz Perrott-Hunt scored from behind the arc. Hunt had had a quiet game but he unleashed ten points in the quarter, Wattie and Peter Jenkins provided good support and Rosmini were able to secure a valuable 74-59 victory.

The score line slightly flattered the hosts who only pulled away in the final three minutes after being given plenty of problems by Liston.

Final Score;

Rosmini College 74 – Wattie 27p, Perrott-Hunt 12p, Jenkins 10p.

Liston College 59 – Johnston 17p, Rerecich 15p, Yelovich 13p,

Standings

Boys

Westlake BHS 10-1

Rangitoto Coll 8-2

Auckland GS 7-3

Onehunga HS 5-5

Rosmini Coll 5-5

Liston Coll 4-6

St Kentigern Coll 1-9

Alfriston Coll 0-9

Committed Gallaher ready for the Opals

samara

Samara Gallaher has a favourite quote ‘What lies ahead of us and what lies behind us matter little compared with what lies within us’

“We have a picture of a Maori warrior in our hallway at home with that quote underneath. Every morning I would wake up and see the painting. You have to live in the moment and I love the quote.There is little doubt that what lies within the Tall Fern’s guard is a desire to be the best she can be every time she steps onto a basketball court.

Diving on a loose ball, grabbing an offensive rebound, winning the hustle plays are the key features of Gallaher’s game. Described by some (well me anyway) as the ‘Mika Vukona’ of the women’s game in New Zealand gives you a fair idea of the qualities she brings to the Tall Ferns.

“That’s like the biggest compliment. That’s one of my strengths, something I pride myself on I’m going to go 100% every time. I’m not afraid to hit a few bodies, dive on the ball or completely commit to a lay up and get taken out by a defender. I’m not out there to prance around or anything like that.”

Playing with commitment is a given for Gallaher but playing in the series against Australia next month will be a new experience.

“They are more intimidating in the sense that I’ve looked up towards the Opals since I was about 12 and always thought they are the greatest. In terms of battling with one on one it’s an exciting challenge. Everyone knows who they are but nobody knows who we are, I’m excited at the prospect of facing them.”

Success on the international stage this season will cap off a terrific 18 months for the Otago born guard.

She is currently based in Melbourne playing for the Hume City Broncos, the team currently leading the prestigious Big V competition in the city. Gallaher averages 12.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game for the defending champions that currently boast a 16-2 record and are favoured to win back to back titles.

The former Kavanagh College student also took a little time away from the Bronco’s campaign to help her beloved Oceana Gold Rush Otago win the New Zealand Women’s Basketball Championship in June and was selected in the WBC All Star Five.

Back in the international environment Gallaher has ambition to be part of the programme for many seasons to come.

“My goal is to remain in the Tall Ferns programme for as long as possible and one day go to an Olympic Games or Commonwealth Games, those are definitely amongst my career goals.”

Gallaher will celebrate her 23rd birthday during the series against Japan next month but a win against Australia in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Series the following week would be an ideal, belated present for the Kiwi guard.

“Beating the Aussies would be the best present, I would be extremely happy”.

One thing is for sure, with that Vukona like attitude, she won’t be taking a backward step against the world number two ranked Opals.

Tall Ferns narrow to 14

Following four days of trials Tall Ferns coach Kennedy Kereama has named 14 players to attend a preparation camp ahead of the international programme.

The squad will remain in camp in South Auckland until Saturday with the 12 player team to be announced later in the week. The Ferns leave on Saturday to attend the William Jones Cup in Taiwan followed by a three test home series against Japan.

Kereama is delighted with the balance of the squad. “The team has a good blend of youth and experience. I have been delighted with the enthusiasm, commitment and attitude of all the players and it is always difficult to advise players that they haven’t been selected on the team. However, I am confident that the players remaining in camp form the strongest group available to the coaching staff. We are approaching the upcoming international programme with great optimism as we build towards the Olympic Qualifying series and beyond.”

Of the 14 retained, six of the players are returning from College programmes in the USA, seven players are contracted to Australian clubs with point guard Jordan Hunter the only player fully domiciled in NZ.11858355

Chevannah Paalvast, Jacinta Beckley and Tessa Boagni are the uncapped players in the 14. Boagni, at 19 years, is the youngest member of the squad.

Following the Japan series the Tall Ferns will contest the FIBA Oceania Series against Australia, in Melbourne on August 15 and Tauranga on August 17. The winner of this series earns direct entry to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

PLAYERS SELECTED

Guards/Small Forwards
Micaela Cocks, Townsville Fire (AUS)
Jordan Hunter, Auckland Counties Manukau Lady Hawks (NZ)
Stella Beck, Saint Mary’s College of California (USA)
Samara Gallaher, Hume City Broncos (AUS)/Oceana Gold Rush Otago (NZ)
Natalie Taylor, Gladstone Power (AUS)
Kalani Purcell, Brigham Young University (USA)
Chevannah Paalvast, Southern Peninsular Sharks (AUS)
Jacinta Beckley, Seattle University (USA)

Forwards/Centres
Lisa Wallbutton, Willeton Tigers (AUS)
Jess Bygate, Nelson Sparks (NZ)/Gladstone Power (AUS)
Megan Craig, Lakeside Lightning (AUS)
Penina Davidson, University of California (USA)
Tessa Boagni, California State University (USA)
Josie Stockill, Colgate University (USA)

TALL FERNS SCHEDULE

20-26 July, Preparation Camp, South Auckland

27-31 July, William Jones Cup, Taiwan

27 July v Chinese Taipei B

28 July v Japan

29 July v South Kore

30 July v Chinese Taipei A

31 July v USA Select
5-9 August, Three game series v Japan
5 August v Japan, Cowles Stadium, Christchurch, tip-off 11am
7 August v Japan, Cowles Stadium, Christchurch, tip-off 7pm
9 August v Japan, EA Stadium, Ashburton, tip-off 2pm
15 August, FIBA Oceania Series, v Australia, Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne
17 August, FIBA Oceania Series, v Australia, ASB Arena, Tauranga

Triple Threat

It is rather unusual to find a pair of sisters in contention for a place on an international sporting team but the Tall Ferns selection camp has a rather unique situation whereby three sisters, Natalie Taylor (nee Purcell), Hailey Purcell and Kalani Purcell, are vying for selection.

The prospective Tall Ferns players have gathered in Auckland to trial for places on the roster to compete in the FIBA Oceania Championship Series against Australia in August, with the winner earning a place at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Older sister Natalie is an established Tall Fern having competed at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing after debuting for the Ferns in 2007. She is currently playing for top of the table Gladstone Power in the Queensland state league.

Youngest sister Kalani debuted in 2013 against Australia and since then the 20 year old has enjoyed an outstanding two years stint at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas where she became the most decorated player in the Blue Dragons Women’s basketball programme.

Kalani heads for Brigham Young University in August holding an incredible eight career records from Hutchinson including most points, 1,176 and most rebounds 855.

Hailey also spent time at Hutchinson Community College before attending the University of Tennessee at Martin followed by twelve months at Alderson Broaddhus College, West Virginia. The 27 year old also spent some time playing in the UK.

“That was cool, it was good experience and I had an awesome time playing for the Sheffield Hatters – we won the competition!”

For Hailey it is exciting to be at her first Tall Ferns camp.

“I’ve always been aiming to make the Tall Ferns squad, I have always dreamed of playing with my sisters on the national team.”

Hailey is also a realist with perhaps only a couple of forward’s spots up for grabs.

“We are all going for the same position so I have to show my strengths. I have to show something that the coaches will want to have as part of the team”

The sisters teamed up in the 2013 New Zealand Women’s Basketball League when they played for the Auckland Counties Manukau Lady Hawks.

It would be something unique and special to do the same on the international stage.

Strong performances ahead of Tall Ferns trial

samara

Just a few days ahead of the Tall Ferns trial a number of players were enjoying an outing with their Australian club sides at the weekend before heading to Auckland for the trial commencing on Thursday.

Gladstone Power, the leaders of the Queensland Basketball League, hosted bottom of the table Suncoast Clippers. Predictably the Power was far too strong for the Clippers winning 117-43.

Charmian Mellars continued her run of impressive form posting a massive double double of 31 points and 13 rebounds. Sister Natalie Taylor scored 21 points and Jess Bygate chipped in with 5 points as the Power improved their record to 12-1.

Micaela Cocks was absent from the Townsville Flames team, her leadership and scoring punch were greatly missed as the Flames went down heavily against Cairns Dolphins 90-61.

Over in Western Australia Lisa Wallbutton had a handy 10 points and 5 rebounds as Willetton Tigers defeated Stirling Senators. The eleventh placed Senators were no match for the second placed Tigers losing 80-56.

In the Big V League in Victoria, Hume City Broncos suffered a surprise 57-49 defeat at the hands of the Bulleen Boomers. Samara Gallaher top scored for the Broncos scoring 17 points, the defeat just the second loss of the campaign for Hume.

Gallaher also wrestled 3 steals during the game and leads the V League in this statistical category averaging 2.3 per game.

Third on the ladder Southern Peninsula Sharks (14-4) secured an impressive win defeating second placed Ringwood Hawks (15-3) 70-63 on Saturday. Kiwi Chevannah Paalvast maintained her good form with 15 points and 6 rebounds. She will leave for her hometown of Auckland for this week’s trial in good heart.

Under 17 National Finals

600600p5292EDNmain4197Harbour A Boys Champs

The 2015 Under 17 National Championships reached their conclusion at North Shore Events Centre on Saturday afternoon. The two finals were conclusively and ultimately comfortably won by Waikato (Girls) and North Harbour (Boys).

The girls final began with Canterbury Metro in the ascendancy, the southerner’s offence displaying fluency, led by Rosie O’Shea and Esra McGoldrick, as they moved to a 22-16 first quarter lead.

In the second period Waikato really clamped down on the Canterbury scorers restricting them to a meager six points in the quarter. Tragically Canterbury lost their stand out forward McGoldrick with a knee injury late in the quarter, the team’s leading rebounder forced to watch the remainder of the proceedings in a wheelchair at the end of the team bench.

With the scores tied at 28 apiece Waikato guard Hayley Ellis launched a speculative shot from just inside the opposition half as the half time hooter sounded. The shot hit nothing but net and Waikato were ahead 31-28 at the break.

Kendall Heremaia, later nominated Tournament MVP, was in dominant form for Waikato and had 13pts and 11 rebounds in the first half. She continued her powerful display in the third quarter ably assisted by Kaylee Smiler and Zhanay Hettig.

Paige Willman and Sapphire Wairau made a couple of nice baskets for Canterbury but the Waikato domination continued and by the end of the third quarter they had one hand on the trophy with a 52-37 lead.

Captain Rosie O’Shea was terrific throughout for Canterbury but she could do nothing to halt the Waikato momentum as they eased further away in the final quarter. Congratulations to Waikato coach Anthony Corbin on adding another national title to the FIBA 3on3 U18 championship he orchestrated last month.

Final Score:

Waikato 71 – Kendall Heremaia 26p/13r, Zhanay Hettig 16p/9r, Kaylee Smiler 11p.

Canterbury Metro 49 – Rosie O’Shea 17p, Paige Willman 11p/7r, Sapphire Wairau 11p

The Boys final started a little slowly, both teams suffering from Grand Final nerves but then North Harbour recorded a heady twenty points in the last five minutes of the period, capped off by back to back dunks from Thabo Manyere, to lead 32-9 at quarter time.

Waikato made a stronger start to the second quarter, Hamish McDonald and Thompson Karena-Reed made important baskets as the two teams traded points.

Waikato raised the interest of the good-sized crowd with a strong surge at the back end of the period but still trailed 56-37 at half time.

The impressive duo Sam Waardenburg and Brayden Inger were both in double figures for Harbour at the interval.

McDonald, revitalised by the half time breather, attacked the Harbour defence relentlessly in the third quarter amassing 14 points in the period. Logan Vaglar also chipped in with a couple of neat baskets but the all round scoring capability of Harbour kept the hosts on the front foot, 82-64 to the good with ten minutes to play.

McDonald again and a triple from Simmons Te Kopore kept the Waikato fans interested but an unsportsmanlike foul from Kingston Higham handed Harbour some easy points. Harbour guard Marc Malingin put on the after burners to make an impressive basket but the highlight of the final quarter was a Waardenburg jam.

The Harbour forward collected a Dan Fotu lob pass to slam down a dunk that Tom Abercrombie would have been proud of.

That move capped off a fine performance from the tournament MVP who led the scoring as his team eased to an impressive win.

Harbour coach Kenny Stone now has two age group national titles to add to his two NBL titles as coach of the Auckland Stars and five titles as a player.

Final Score:

Harbour 113 – Sam Waardenburg 28p/18r, Brayden Inger 19p, Zack Te Puni 14p, Thabo Manyere 10p/10r, Nathan Curran 10p/8r

Waikato – 74 – Hamish McDonald 28p, Thompson Karena-Reed 14p/10r, Simmons Te Kopere 9p

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