Rangitoto College secure first national title


The boys final at the 2015 SAS Secondary Schools National Championships in Palmerston North was won by Rangitoto College 80-63, the win giving Rangitoto their first ever title.

Westlake had won five championships in the past 10 years aided by the likes of Tom Abercrombie, Rob Loe and the Webster brothers but ran out of gas after after tough quarter final and semi final matches.

The key match up in the game was that between the youngest ever Tall Black Tai Wynyard and the Oklahoma University bound Matt Freeman who scored an incredible 50 points in Westlake’s semi-final victory over Fraser High the day before. On this occasion Wynyard with a double double of 23 points and 19 rebounds made the telling contribution. There would be no heroics from Freeman on this occasion, the effort of carrying his team through the previous knockout games taking a visible toll on the swingman.

Rangitoto had the better of the early exchanges establishing a useful 25-12 first quarter lead, 6 points each to Wynyard, Isaac Davidson and Dan Fotu.

Both teams struggled for offensive fluency in the second period but aided by frequent visits to the foul line and an Isaac Letoa triple Westlake reduced the deficit to 39-30 at half time. Wynyard was dominating the paint and had accumulated 9 rebounds and 10 points at the interval.

Rangi pulled further away in the early stages of the third period to lead 50-34 and worryingly for Westlake Freeman picked up a third foul. A Wynyard double block on the same play emphasised his dominance but Letoa, Freeman and Thabo Manyere responded to fuel a 9-0 Westlake run.This was answered by Wynyard and Inger to give Rangitoto a 60-43 three quarter time advantage and one hand on the trophy.

An early 6-2 run by Westlake in the final stanza prompted a Kenny Stone timeout. Rangi responded with a couple of Inger and Josiah Williams baskets prompting Phil Campbell to call a timeout of his own.

The timeout worked as Letoa drained a triple then a lay up but Rangitoto held their nerve, man of the match Wynyard, the impressive Fotu and captain Davidson sealing a deserved, convincing win for Rangitoto, 80-63.

Rangitoto Coach Kenny Stone was full of praise for tournament MVP Tai Wynyard.

“He dominated inside and I urged him to do that as nobody can match up against him, it was a terrific performance.

The game plan worked and a first title for Rangitoto was secured.

“ Our game plan was to play man to man on Matt Freeman and Isaac Letoa and tire them out. Our defenders worked hard and wore them down.”

“It has been a challenging season with numerous injuries and Tai absent for long periods but it is very satisfying and I am very proud to have helped secure a first title for Rangitoto.”

In addition to Wynyard winning the MVP award four other players from the game joined him in the tournament team. Team mates Isaac Davidson and Dan Fotu were joined by the Westlake pair of Matt Freeman and Isaac Letoa.

Final Score;

Rangitoto 80 – Wynyard 23p/19r/3b, Fotu 16p, Davidson 13p, Inger 10p/9r

Westlake 63 – Freeman 28p/9r, Letoa 13p, Hunt 9p

St Peter’s defeat Wellington in final


The girls final at the 2015 SAS Secondary Schools National Championships in Palmerston North was won by St Peter’s, Cambridge beating Wellington Girls College 64-54. The win comes after St Peter’s had also claimed the national 3 on 3 title earlier in the year.

Caitlin Grice, a key member of the Wellington team opened the scoring but Krystal Leger-Walker landed a couple of NBA range threes to help St Peter’s to an 18-16 first quarter lead.

Shamar Masoe-James and Kendall Heremaia put together a couple of highlight plays as both teams fought for an advantage in the second quarter. Despite giving up 13 offensive rebounds and committing a dozen turnovers Wellington only trailed by a single point at half time, 29-28.

A Sinead Nuri triple late in the third quarter kept St Peter’s ahead 45-41 at the end of the period but continued triangle and two defence aided by offensive contributions from Tegan Graham and Shalae Salmon kept them in contention.

The final quarter began with the play of the game as Charlisse Leger-Walker scored off a no look pass from sister Krystal to establish a 7 points lead.

A Graham step through move closed the gap only four points separating the two teams with under 4 minutes remaining but

Charlisse Leger-Walker responded with a neat reverse lay up to maintain the advantage.

Lyric Dixon scored for Wellington in the final minute but Heremaia iced the game for St Peters with a perfect four from four free throws to secure the title for the Waikato champions.

St Peter’s coach, former Tall Ferns captain Leanne Walker, was really proud of her team.

“Our full court defence worked well for us putting the Wellington ball handlers under pressure. Kendall Heremaia really stepped up today as did the likes of Georgie Edgecombe and Ella Bradley.”

Needless to say she was chuffed with the performance of her daughters Krystal and Chalisse.

“Very proud, they have worked hard all year. It is awesome for Krystal as this was her last game in an St Peter’s singlet.”

Final Score:

St Peter’s 64 – Heremaia 17p/8r, K Leger-Walker14p/8r/6a, C Leger-Walker 13p/9r

Wellington Coll 54 – Graham 14, Salmon 13, Grice 8p/11r Masoe-James 8p

Kiwis Abroad – Losses for BJ Anthony and Erin Rooney

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JULY 19:  Benny Anthony of New Zealand is upt under pressue at the basket during the international match between the New Zealand Tall Blacks and South Korea at North Shore Events Centre on July 19, 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand.  (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Two of the Kiwi international players based in Europe were in action at the weekend.

BJ Anthony scored 13 points (6/8FG) but his British Basketball League club Plymouth Raiders slipped to their second loss in the opening two weeks of the season going down at the Manchester Giants 95-89. The Raiders will be disappointed with the defeat having led by as many as 18 points in the third period. Former Breaker Daryl Corletto scored 18 points for Plymouth but wasn’t at his deadliest as he shot 6 from 18 from the field.

The only other European based player in action at the weekend was Erin Rooney. Unfortunately for Rooney, embarking on her second season in the French League, her new club COB Calais were taken apart by Nantes 93-52 on the opening day of the season.

Rooney scored 7 points (2/9FG) and added 5 rebounds and 3 assists but Calais were never in the hunt trailing 48-29 at half time and 40 points in arrears at three quarter time.

Other players in Europe this coming season are Isaac Fotu, Rob Loe and Jillian Harmon.

Isaac Fotu will once again play in Liga Endesa, Spain, regarded by most basketball pundits as the premier competition outside of the NBA. Fotu has returned to CAI Zaragoza the club that initially signed him last season before he was loaned out to La Bruixa d’Or Manresa.

Fotu enjoyed a fine debut season averaging 10.4ppg and 4.0 rebounds for Manresa. Following a successful recent Tall Blacks campaign Fotu will be looking to establish himself as a starter in the Zaragoza lineup.

Zaragoza narrowly missed the Spanish league play-offs last season finishing ninth on the table but did secure a place in the Eurocup. They are in Group C in Europe alongside fellow Spanish side Valencia and Nancy (France), Ratiopharm (Germany), Spirou (Belgium) and Umana (Italy).

Zaragoza have a tough season opener on October 11th travelling to traditional powerhouse Barcelona, last season’s beaten finalists. Fotu dropped 20 points against Barcelona last season; a repeat performance would impress the Zaragoza faithful.

Rob Loe, like Fotu in his second professional season, has moved west across Europe linking with Limburg United in the Belgium league. Last season Loe played for KAO Dramas in the Greek league averaging 7.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.

Limburg were newcomers to the Belgium league last season finishing with a creditable 16-14 record before elimination in the quarter finals. Loe and his colleagues visit Kangoeroes for the opening game of the season on October 3rd.

Jillian Harmon, having won a WNBL title with Townsville Fire earlier this year, has been lured back to Italy to play for Le Mura Lucca in the upcoming season.

The twenty eight year old has enjoyed a good amount of success in Serie A playing her first five seasons as a professional in Italy before testing out the Australian League.

Lucca has been finalists in the Italian Super Cup for the past two seasons and begins their league campaign away against Umbertide on October 4th.

Over in Australia a number of our Tall Blacks were in action at the NBL preseason Blitz in Townsville.

Leon Henry had a successful weekend winning the Blitz dunk competition as well as playing for the hosts, Townsville Crocodiles. His best individual performance was 9 points in the loss to the Breakers.

Jarrod Kenny enjoyed extended minutes for the Perth Wildcats in the absence of star Wildcats point guard Damian Martin. He also had his most productive game against the Breakers, playing 33 minutes and notching 9 points. Fellow Tall Blacks guard Dion Prewster also enjoyed good minutes with the Sydney Kings.

Kirk Penney had just a single outing for the Illawarra Hawks scoring 7 points in 17 minutes against Adelaide on Sunday.

Next month we will be also be following the fortunes of Tall Ferns playing in Australia. Micaela Cocks and Chevannah Paalvast (both at Townsville Fire), Jess Bygate (Adelaide Lightning) and Toni Edmondson (Perth Lynx) will feature in the WNBL during the 2015-16 season.

Breakers beaten in overtime


The SKYCITY Breakers, in their third and final game at the NBL Blitz, took on the Cairns Taipans for the first time since the 2015 NBL Grand Final series back in February. Continue reading

Breakers go down to Wildcats at Blitz


The SKYCITY Breakers took on old rivals the Perth Wildcats in their second game at the 2015 NBL Blitz on Friday night. In a typical hard fought encounter the Breakers were defeated 86-80 after the scores were tied 77-77 with two minutes remaining. Continue reading

Nele Nikovic’s European Coaching Report

As reported recently Auckland coach Nele Nikovic was given the rare opportunity to embark on the prestigious three year FIBA Europe Coaching Certificate, New Zealand’s sole representative on the programme. Below is an update from Nele on his recent trip to Europe.

The prestigious FIBA Europe Coaching Certificate (FECC) is a 3-year programme, designed to equip coaches with current knowledge in all spheres of basketball, from tactics, scouting and strength & conditioning, to psychological aspects of the game.

I was very fortunate to represent New Zealand as it’s FIBA Oceania representative. A total of 68 coaches attended the week-long first phase of the programme that was held in Kaunas, Lithuania, during the FIBA U16 European Championships.Image 01-NeleI met coaches from various backgrounds, chatted to many FIBA staff, and had the opportunity to spend time with highly credible European and International mentor coaches.

The leader of the programme is Svetislav Pesic who is the only coach to have won European and World Championship titles in all FIBA age group and men’s competitions when coaching Yugoslavia.

One of those titles was at the World Champs in 2002 (Indianapolis), the tournament where New Zealand achieved its highest position ever (4th). He has also won European Championships with two different countries (Yugoslavia and Germany), and Euroleague titles (Bosna & Barcelona) both as a player and as a coach.Image 02-NeleIn 2016 I will head to Europe for the U18 European Champs, concluding the exciting journey in 2017 at the U20 European Championship tournament. I highly recommend this development opportunity to coaches in New Zealand so should anyone need an insight into what is needed, expected, financials, etc., do email me as I would be more than happy to help fellow coaches. nikovic@gmail.com

To paint a bit of a picture of what is involved see below as to how the journey went this year:

Route: New Zealand-Singapore-Switzerland-Montenegro-Serbia-Russia-Lithuania – August 2015

Image 03-Nele

After arriving in Montenegro and enjoying a few warm days, I headed to Lithuania via Belgrade and Moscow by air and then concluded the journey in Kaunas with a small charter bus, hired by FIBA especially for the coaches.

There were 68 coaches from all FIBA world zones with about 40 national associations represented.

My 7-day experience started with a schedule that got emailed to me in advance. At a quick glance, it was hard to spot any long breaks between seminars and games. Starting with a breakfast at 8:30am, and finishing with dinner at 11:30pm, the days were very long but thoroughly enjoyable due to the information covered throughout the day. Absolutely everything was basketball related so for a true enthusiast, you couldn’t ask for more. Image 08-Nele

Two clinics a day were followed by 90 minute discussions with mentor coaches in the afternoon and then completing the activities with two games in the evening.

This schedule was fairly similar for most of the week with the inclusion of scouting (player allocations done for different coaches / groups), and group presentations with official grading.

Seminars were facilitated on court with some coaches participating or in Kaunas University lecture theatre.
Image 11-Nele

We touched on a variety of topics from Strength & Conditioning, Fundamentals, Scouting, Game Psychology to Lithuanian National Programme Strategy.

Homework throughout the year is also compulsory so even though I am not in Kaunas, I am still in touch with colleagues in order to complete assessments.

We have a large mix of coaches from various backgrounds. Some were only involved in youth coaching, others were current or ex-National players, a few had NBA backgrounds, and others held positions with national associations.

To conclude, I cannot wait for next year as I expect bigger and better things to come, despite sitting next to Arvydas Sabonis this year!


P.S. I must mention the amazing on-court effort by Bosnia & Herzegovina (image above), beating the home team Lithuania in the Under 16 FIBA European Final, 85-83. The whole senior Lithuanian team was present at the game to support their youngsters.

That was an exciting conclusion to a wondeful experience.

Kiwis in Europe


During the next few months Laceylowdown will be keeping an eye on the performances of our Tall Blacks and Tall Ferns playing overseas. To date seven Tall Blacks and six Tall Ferns have secured full time contracts for the 2015-16 season. Eight players will be suiting up in Australia but in this article we focus on the three Tall Blacks and two Tall Ferns playing the next season in Europe Continue reading

BJ Anthony’s latest venture

There are a number of Tall Blacks and Tall Ferns that will be plying their trade overseas during the upcoming European and Australasian seasons. Most leagues tip off in October but one exception is the British Basketball League that begins this weekend. Continue reading

Paalvast playing with Fire


In a week that New Zealand basketball news has been dominated by the rise and rise of Corey Webster another Kiwi player has received some excellent news. Tall Fern Chevannah Paalvast has secured a contract to play for Townsville Fire in the upcoming Australian WNBL season. Paalvast will join fellow Kiwi international Micaela Cocks on the roster of the defending champions. Continue reading

Porirua defeat Waitakere Rangers to win NBC


The SAS National Basketball Championship for Men featured Waitakere Rangers and Porirua. Continue reading


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