Tall Ferns come up short

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One country, three states, three finals, four Tall Ferns but unfortunately no titles. That was the summary of the weekend’s action in Australia.

Four of the recent Tall Ferns team were in grand final action weekend but none were able to enjoy the golden glow of lifting the winning trophy. Lisa Wallbutton, Samara Gallaher, Jess Bygate and Natalie Taylor all had to settle for runners-up medals

Samara Gallaher’s Hume City held a one game advantage in the Big V grand final series in Melbourne against the Ringwood Hawks.

In game two on Saturday the scores were tied at three-quarter time, 43 apiece, before Ringwood, winning the last quarter 22-15 forced the series into a deciding game with a 65-58 victory. Gallaher found herself in a bit of foul trouble scoring just the four points for the Broncos.

Less than 24 hours later the two teams were at it again in the winner take all third game. Both teams looked nervous, a low scoring opening stanza was headed by Ringwood 12-7. Hume managed just two field goals in the period, one a triple from Gallaher.

The Broncos found a little more offensive flow in the second quarter but still trailed 30-23 at half time.

In the third period the Broncos narrowed to within one point, 43-33 with 4:30 to play and edged ahead 42-40 at the end of the period

Hume had the better of the initial stages of the final period leading 51-44 with 6 minutes to play. The turning point came in the last three minutes. Hume led by three points but then proceeded to miss four consecutive free throws. The Hawks grabbed that opportunity tieing the game inside the last minute before making the go ahead play with just 10 seconds remaining to beat the defending champions 57-55

On Friday night, over in Perth, the Willetton Tigers came unstuck against the Rockingham Flames losing 68-63. The two best teams in the State League had split their two regular season games and the single game final, as expected, was a tight tussle.

Willetton held the narrowest of leads, 33-32, at half time but entered the final period 50-47 adrift.

The Flames, looking for back-to-back titles, were in no mood to relinquish the lead and held on for the five-point victory.Lisa Wallbutton put up just a single shot from the field, the Tigers forward finishing with 3 points and 4 rebounds.

Over in the Sunshine State, Rockhampton Cyclones captured the Queensland Basketball title with a straight 2-0 series win against Gladstone Power.

In game one on Friday night the Cyclones built a commanding 51-35 half time lead finishing comfortable 77-65 victors.

Natalie Taylor accumulated 17 points and 7 rebounds for the Power, with sister Charmian Mellars impressing with a double double of 16 points and 14 rebounds. Sixth man Jess Bygate had a quiet game with just a couple of points.

In game two on Saturday Gladstone held sway at half time leading 33-29 and a third game decider on Sunday looked a distinct possibility. However, Rockhampton upped their defensive effort in the second half restricting the Power to just 12 points in the third period and 13 points in the final quarter, surging to a 68-58 win.

Gladstone forward Jess Bygate (4pts/2rebs) fouled out, logging just 15 minutes court time. Mellars (12pts/11rebs) recorded her second double double of the weekend and Taylor contributed 8pts/3rebs/5assists.

In other news Chevannah Paalvast has linked with the Townsville Fire alongside fellow Tall Fern Micaela Cocks for the upcoming Australian WNBL season. Paalvast is not currently on the 10-player roster but will be available for selection in the event of injury to contracted players.

As well documented in other news outlets Tall Ferns centre Megan Craig has signed with the Northern Mystics for the 2016 trans-Tasman championship.

Third time lucky as Rangitoto College defeat Westlake Boys

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Westlake Boys High School met Rangitoto College in the final of the Auckland Secondary Schools Premier competition at North Shore Events Centre on Thursday night.

Guard Logan Hunt found nothing but net with an early three but that produced a frenzied Rangi response as they rattled off the next 11 points including a Dan Fotu three and a soft baby hook from Tai Wynyard.

A time out from Westlake coach Phil Campbell rallied his charges and they hit the front, courtesy of a Matt Freeman triple, 20-17, at quarter time.

The initial stages of quarter two were high on intensity but low on scoring, an off balance finger roll lay up from Rosmini point guard Josiah Williams a rare highlight.

Greg Vukets capped an outstanding first half by slicing through the Rangi defence to tie the scores at 35 apiece at the half time interval.

Vukets continued his strong showing with the first four points of the second half but the third period was a stop start affair. Both teams clocked up multiple fouls; three on Wynyard and a fourth on Fotu condemned both to the bench. Neither team could capitalise from frequent visits to the foul line, normally reliable shooters unable to convert various free throw opportunities. Zac Te Puni came to the fore late in the quarter seizing on a loose ball for a breakaway dunk and then the recipient of a deft Isaac Davidson pass to edge Rangitoto ahead 54-51 at three quarter time.

Cameron Stone knocked down a couple of long threes early in the final period before Hunt replied with a couple of scores, 68-62 with 4:15 to play.

Consecutive baskets from Brayden Inger for Rangi were cancelled out as Freeman and then Hunt both made difficult fade away baseline jump shots, Rangi just ahead 70-66 with 2:30 remaining.

Tall Black Tai Wynyard converted an and one play twice in the last couple of minutes, those plays bracketing a Davidson drive as Rangi bossed the closing moments to close out a 78-69 win.

Rangitoto were worthy winners, paced by point guard Josiah Williams who was named MVP of the final. . Having lost both regular season games to Westlake and without the injured Sam Waardenburg they will head into the upcoming national’s qualifying tournament full of confidence.

Final Score;

Rangitoto 78 – Davidson 15, Te Puni 12, Wynyard 11, Inger 10.

Westlake 69 – Freeman 18, Vukets 17, Hunt 13.

Westlake Girls beat Rangitoto College in Premier Final

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The finals of the Auckland Secondary Schools Premier basketball competition were held at North Shore Events Centre on Thursday night. Both the boys and the girls finals featured Westlake versus Rangitoto College match ups

The Girls final was an entertaining affair eventually won 73-63 by favourites Westlake Girls High School after Rangitoto College had pushed them all the way.

Tiarna Clarke opened proceedings as Westlake shot out to an early 8-0 lead. NZ Under 17 international Coola Baudry put Rangitoto College on the board but her team trailed 17-11 at the end of quarter one.

Westlake welcomed centre Katelyn Noyer back into their line up following injury and she produced a couple of emphatic blocks in the opening stages of the second quarter. Steals and baskets from Zara Jillings and Rosie Davison threatened to take the game away from Rangi but a nice drive and dish from Rebecca Hughes for another Baudry basket kept the scoreline manageable from their perspective, trailing 36-24 at half time.

The two best forwards on show, Baudry and Noyer, demonstrated some nice inside footwork as they exchanged baskets in the third period. Annaline Crosbie and Casey McFadden scored back-to-back threes before Clarke nailed a triple of her own to keep Rangi at bay. The quarter closed with a trademark step back jumper from Sophie Bond as Rangi sensed an opportunity, trailing 58-52 at the end of the third period.

Westlake coach Justine Reed was forced to juggle her resources, as Noyer, Jillings and Olivia Bell were all called for their fourth fouls by mid term in the final stanza. Active defence from Rangi and a nice inside basket from Baudry had the Westlake team looking anxiously over their shoulders only ahead 66-60 with 3:10 to play.

On the next Lake possession the rather subdued Clarke sunk a long range triple and as hard as they tried Rangitoto could not get closer, a Davison steal and lay up sealing the title for Westlake.

Zara Jillings, following a game high 18 points, was deservedly named MVP of the Final

Final Score;

Westlake 73 – Jillings 18, Noyer 13, Clarke 9, Georgia Perrott-Hunt 9

Rangitoto 63 – Baudry 15, Bond 14, Hughes 8, Crosbie 8

Kiwi Coach attends FIBA Europe Coaching Certificate

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 Nele Nikovic has been given the rare opportunity to join the prestigious three year FIBA Europe Coaching Certificate.

Every National Basketball Association in Europe is only allowed to nominate two coaches for every three year cycle to attend the certification. On occasions non FIBA Europe countries are permitted to send coaches to the course and Nele jumped at the chance when given the opportunity.

Nele has been coaching in New Zealand since 2006, first coaching junior representative teams at Harbour Basketball and then working as Kenny Stone’s assistant coach for the Auckland Stars in the NBL. After his time with the Stars he moved back over to the Shore coaching the Harbour Heat Reserves and assisting Alex Stojkovic with the Harbour Heat in 2013.

Since then Nele has been coaching at his alma mater Selwyn College, working with both the Junior and Senior Boys.

Each August, for the next three years, coaches from all over Europe have to attend a week long coaching clinic that coincides with a European junior basketball tournament. This year the coaches attended the U16 European Championships in Kaunas, Lithuania.

Next year the coaches will go to the U18 European Championships and in 2017 the U20 championships. The coaches had to attend clinics and matches and had to analyse games as well as attend workshops.

In year three of the programme they have to sit a written as well as oral exam. This is the most thorough and detailed coaching certification in the world gives attending coaches the opportunity to learn from such coaching legends as Svetislav Pesic, who is the Head Lecturer of the programme.

Lacey Lowdown correspondent Alex Stojkovic had a chance to sit down with Nele and quiz him on the FIBA certification.

How did you become aware of this coaching certificate and what made you want to do it?

I had heard of it when it first started, in 2007. It’s the most prestigious basketball certification one can have so representing your country as well as being mentored by great coaches for three years, is more than enough for anyone to attend it, should the opportunity be presented. I waited for mine and I am sure I will not be disappointed.

Is there anything in particular that you are looking to learn from this course?

I pride myself as being the ‘Jack of All Trades’ when it comes to basketball knowledge, in the past as a player and now as a coach, so improving each of these coaching aspects is what I am hoping to achieve. If I was to narrow it down, perhaps recruitment and sports psychology.

Having the chance to pick the brain of someone like Coach Pesic must be a real thrill.

It is a dream come true. I am excited beyond words. Svetislav Pesic is a coaching legend internationally having won World Champs, Euro Champs, Euroleague, etc., superb role model and being a fellow ex-Yugoslav, it makes it that much more exciting.

This course is obviously a huge time and cost investment in your professional development. How do you see this course pay dividends for you in the future?

 Beside the basketball knowledge each of the participants will attain, we have a chance to network with each other. My two main objectives are to help New Zealand National Age Group Teams as well as look for opportunities overseas on a club level.I do not think you can take shortcuts in becoming a good coach so such opportunity should not be passed along.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us about this experience?

I would like to acknowledge the effort from Natu Taufale (National Director – Coach Development, BBNZ) for making this happen. I can’t wait to bring back and apply what I am about to learn at FECC, here in New Zealand. If there are coaches wishing to upskill themselves, I strongly recommend applying for this certificate. For those wishing to know more about it, feel free to email me on nikovic@gmail.com anytime.

Thanks for the interview Nele.

Bartlett eliminated but Tall Ferns progress

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After five weeks of globetrotting on international duty most of the Tall Ferns and Tall Blacks are enjoying some time away from the game before college and club commitments commence at the end of the month. Continue reading

The Breakers D squad named

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The SKYCITY Breakers have today confirmed the final four places on the wider 2015/16 ANBL roster with confirmation of the four players on development contracts for the new season.

The four players have all been signed following the highly successful Rookie Camp held at the club two weekends ago, with players from around the country invited to trial to be a part of the team for the coming seasoShea Ili, Jordan Ngatai and Tai Wynyard return for further seasons as development players while Finn Delany is the newcomer amongst the group, after the 20 year old impressed at Rookie Camp after doing likewise during recent Tall Black trials.

The club has chosen to go with four players, with Tai Wynyard signed on a non-payment contract that protects his amateur status ahead of taking up his scholarship at Kentucky University in the USA. Teams can name up to 12 players on the roster for all home games, with development players eligible for consideration each week.

Below is a run down on the four players named by the SKYCITY Breakers

Jordan Ngatai

SF/PF, 195cm, 109kg

NZ Breakers Development Player 14-15, Tall Blacks ’13, Wellington Saints ’14, Manawatu Jets ‘15.

Prior to joining the Breakers Jordan had a year playing NCAA Division 2 college basketball at BYU Hawaii where he averaged 7.7 points and 3.8 rebounds for the Seasiders.

Played New Zealand NBL basketball in 2015 for Manawatu Jets. Unfortunately he carried a foot injury, incurred late in the Breakers season, into his NBL season and that affected his early season form.

However he finished the campaign strongly averaging 13.5 points and 5.3 rebounds for the Jets.

Debuted for the New Zealand Tall Blacks in 2013 and a strong 12 months could see the versatile forward back in contention for an international spot next year.

The oldest of the four development players at 22 years Ngatai made 7 brief appearances for the Breakers last season and will be keen to log more minutes in this campaign.

Shea Ili

PG, 184cm, 84kg

NZ Breakers Development Player 14-15, Tall Blacks ’15, Super City Rangers ‘13 Southland Sharks ’14 and ‘15

An outstanding defender he was a key figure, alongside Breakers teammates Tai Wesley and Duane Bailey, as the Southland Sharks lifted the 2015 New Zealand NBL championship. He averaged 9.4 points, 4.3rebounds and 3.6 assists for the Sharks.

In July he made his international debut for the New Zealand Tall Blacks and late in the second Oceania Olympic Qualifying game against the Australian Boomers underlined his defensive prowess as he caused NBA stars Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova some anxious moments.

The twenty two year old made 8 appearances for the Breakers last season

Needs to develop his point guard leadership and his outside shooting ability but there is no doubt he possesses the quickness and athleticism to be a success at ANBL and international level.

Tai Wynyard

PF/C, 205cm, 115kg

NZ Breakers Development Player 14-15, Tall Blacks ’14’, 15, Super City Rangers ‘14, ’15.

Tai Wynyard returns for his second season as a Development player having made 2 appearances last season.

Tai has had a sensational past few months on the basketball court. In July 2014 he became the youngest ever New Zealand Tall Black when he debuted against South Korea. Three months later he became the youngest SKY CITY Breaker when taking the court against the Adelaide 36ers. Tai again made headlines in June 2015 when he was a member of the New Zealand team that won gold at the FIBA Under 18 3 on 3 World Championship in Hungary.

In his final year at Rangitoto College the 17 year old has committed to the University of Kentucky.

Wynyard will play a significant role for the Breakers while Alex Pledger recovers from his toe surgery but it remains to be seen if the Breakers will seek dispensation to enable the young forward to play road games during that time.

Finn Delany

PF/SF, 198cm, 100kg

Tall Black trialist ’15, Nelson Giants ’13-‘15

Just 20 years of age and Finn has already played 47 games over three seasons for the Nelson Giants in the New Zealand NBL. Averaging 6.1 points and 3.3 rebounds Delany helped the Giants reach the semi-finals in the recently completed 2015 NBL season.

He played the 2014-15 season at SW Baptist University, Missouri and averaged 9.0 points and 4.7 rebounds. He also enjoyed terrific shooting percentages – 54% FG/40% 3PG/80% FT.

Delany is currently studying Commerce at Otago University and will join the team permanently following his exams.

Westlake and Rangitoto to contest finals

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The semi finals of the Auckland Secondary Schools Premier basketball competition were held at North Shore Events Centre on Friday night. The North Harbour teams dominated their opponents from south of the bridge to set up Westlake v Rangitoto College finals in both the boys and the girls grades. Continue reading

School buddies become international colleagues

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 14: Lisa Wallbutton of New Zealand (L) and Lauren Jackson of Australia in action during the Women's FIBA Oceania Championship match between the New Zealand Tall Ferns and the Australian Opals at North Shore Events Centre on August 14, 2013 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)

Two of the senior players in the recent Tall Ferns team, both former North Harbour representative players, are currently living on opposite sides of a continent but have shared an immense amount of time together over the years. Continue reading

NZ U16 Boys fall just short

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Mike Fitchett’s boys came up just short in the gold medal game featuring New Zealand and Australia at the FIBA U16 Oceania champoinship final in Wellington. Continue reading

Great effort from New Zealand Under 16 Girls

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The fourth and final day of play at the Women’s FIBA Under 16 Oceania Championship featured the two medal games.

At stake in the gold medal game was a place at the FIBA Under 17 World Championship to be held in Spain in June 2016. Continue reading

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