Tall Ferns Abroad – winners and losers this week

Plenty of action this week with three Tall Ferns still in contention for the WNBL title, fine performances from college players plus news of a Tall Fern excelling on court, in the pool and in the classroom.

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Stella Beck led all scorers with 18 points (8/10FG) as St Mary’s Gaels won at Portland 75-65 on Friday.

The Gaels will rue a lost opportunity on Sunday after going down by a single point, 59-58, at West Coast Conference leaders Gonzaga. Beck was one of two St Mary’s players in double figures with 11 points but was guilty of committing 6 turnovers as the Gaels committed 22 in total compared with 8 by Gonzaga.

Despite the turnover count the Gaels looked to have sealed the win when Beck put her team ahead 58-57 inside the last minute but Gonzaga scored the go ahead basket in a game that had a staggering 19 lead changes.

 Kalani Purcell had a game high 16 points to compliment 8 rebounds and 4 assists as BYU Cougars thumped Pepperdine 88-49 on Friday. BYU made it two from two over the weekend with a 72-61 victory against San Francisco on Sunday and are now 10-4 in West Coast Conference play. Purcell had 13 points and 7 assists as well as 8 rebounds in the second game. Purcell now has 678 rebounds in her career at BYU – she is now 10th all-time in rebounds in BYU history in just two seasons as a Cougar.

 Seattle University Redhawks improved to 7-1 in Western Athletic Conference play with a resounding 82-53 win against Chicago State on Friday. Jacinta Beckley scored 15 points (7/10FG) for Seattle, the Paraparaumu College alumni is in good form for the Redhawks.

Tessa Boagni scored just 4 points but amassed 13 rebounds, including 7 off the offensive glass, as Cal State Northridge Matadors eased passed UC Santa Barbara 62-55 on Friday. The Matadors improved to 6-4 in the Big West Conference with a 70-67 overtime victory against UC Riverside 48 hours later. Again Boagni was in rebounding form with 9 boards – she also converted an important free throw in the additional period.

Penina Davidson had a team high 11 rebounds plus 4 points but couldn’t prevent Cal Berkeley Golden Bears slipping to a 64-59 home loss against Colorado on Sunday. The Bears are now 5-9 in Pac-12 Conference games.

Krystal Leger-Walker dished a game high 6 assists as Northern Colorado Bears went down 67-61 against Eastern Washington. Leger-Walker added 3 points and 5 rebounds in this the second loss of the season in Big Sky Conference play.

Australian WNBL

The WNBL play-off race is down to five teams with one round remaining next weekend.

It took overtime but Perth Lynx are certain of a play-offs spot after beating Melbourne Boomers 87-81 on Sunday and improving to 15-7. Toni Edmondson fouled out with 1:40 left in regulation after contributing 9 points, 3 rebounds and a steal to the Lynx cause.

Micaela Cocks also scored 9 points as Townsville Fire downed Dandenong Rangers for the second consecutive weekend although fellow Tall Fern Chev Paalvast didn’t take the floor. The victory means the Fire have a 2-1 winning split on Dandenong that may be enough, depending on the results of the final round of games next week, to carry them to third spot on the WNBL ladder.

However nothing is certain as fifth placed Canberra, who visit Townsville on Saturday, hold the series advantage over the defending champions.

Jess Bygate (Melbourne Boomers) and Jordan Hunter (Adelaide Lightning) will conclude their seasons next week with their teams filling the last two places on the ladder.

The WNBL ladder with just 1 round to play – teams play 24 regular season games and top 4 qualify for semi-finals;

Sydney University Flames 17-6

Perth Lynx 15-7

Townsville Fire 14-9

Dandenong Rangers 14-9


Canberra Capitals 12-10

Bendigo Spirit 11-11

Melbourne Boomers 5-18

Adelaide Lightning 2-20

Europe

 It was third hosting first in the Italian League and despite a customary double-digit contribution from Jillian Harmon (16 points) it was third that prevailed but only just. Despite losing 60-58 at Venezia, ending a 14 game winning streak, Le Mura Lucca (15-2) still holds top spot on the ladder.

Other News

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Many high school athletes excel in more than one sport, but very few can match the 2016 accomplishments of American based Junior Tall Fern McKenna Dale in the unusual pairing of swimming and basketball.

Her amazing feats during the 2016 calendar year have earned Dale the Hal Levy Female Athlete of the Year Award from the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance.

“I am definitely surprised; I had no idea I would stand out that much with all the talented athletes in Connecticut,” Dale said in a recent interview.

The lanky 6-footer, who didn’t start playing basketball until fifth grade, began the year by leading E.O. Smith to its first Central Connecticut Conference girls basketball tournament title, averaging 24.3 points per game, including 30 in an 81-68 win over South Windsor in the championship game.

In November at Southern Connecticut State University, Dale successfully defended her 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle titles at the Class L meet, posting a 23.17 time in the 50 freestyle that eclipsed not only her own class record, but also the state mark of 23.20, held since 1997.

Four days later at Yale University, Dale topped herself, shattering her own state record in the 50 freestyle and adding the 100 freestyle crown with a personal best.

Rather than rest, the dual citizen of New Zealand (father Darren is a former NZ 400m athletics record holder) and the United States immediately got into international basketball mode, traveling to Fiji to play at the FIBA Oceania U-18 Championships where she averaged 10.4 points per game for the Junior Tall Ferns.

A true scholar-athlete, Dale has committed to play Division I basketball at Brown University of the prestigious Ivy League later this year.

“Sometimes it’s hard to keep a good balance between athletics and academics, but academics has always been a high priority and will continue to be, going to an Ivy League school,” she said.

Mixed fortunes for our overseas based Tall Blacks last week

There were mixed results for the European, Australian and American college based Tall Blacks last week.

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Tai Webster led Nebraka’s scoring with 19 points but the Huskers suffered their third single digit defeat of the season going down 70-69 in overtime to No7 Wisconsin on Friday.

Webster, who also led his team in assists with 5 in that category, “Played his butt off” according to coach Tim Miles.

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Jack Salt scored 4 points including a tip back going into half-time as Virginia, ranked No 9 in the country beat No 4 Louisville 71-55 on Wednesday. Salt’s play pleased teammate London Perrantes and helped set up a dominant second half display.

“It gave us a lot of energy. We were down by two going into the half and that was what we need from him. We need energy, we need those offensive rebounds, we need his blocks. Everything we get from him is huge, but obviously, there was a lot of energy from that moment.” Salt added 6 rebounds for good measure.

 Things didn’t go to plan for Salt or his team on Sunday beaten 80-78 in double overtime by rivals Virginia State. Salt logged 4 fouls in just 14 minutes managing 2 points and 4 rebounds in that time.

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The Sacramento State Hornets had a significant double over the weekend. On Friday they knocked off Big Sky Conference leaders Weber State 77-74 and followed this with a 75-63 win against Idaho State on Sunday. Izayah Le’Afa played a solid hand contributing 3 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and a game high 3 steals against Weber State and 10 points against Idaho as the Hornets improve to 6-6 in conference play.

 Europe

In Spain Zaragoza was thumped 100-67 at Valencia and drop to 13th (7-13) on the Spanish League table. Isaac Fotu played a team high 31 minutes and scored 10 points but it must have been hard going in a fixture totally dominated by fourth placed Valencia.

Also in Spain Sammic ISB slip to second on the LEB Silver ladder after losing 79-70 at Cambados. Forward Mike Karena played a strong hand for Sammic snaring 6 rebounds as well as scoring 16 points

Junior Tall Blacks

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The Junior Tall Blacks have been drawn alongside European champions France, third placed Asian qualifier Korea and a yet to be announced fourth team from the Americas at the FIBA U19 World Cup.

The 16 teams event will be held in Cairo, Egypt from July 1st-9th.

New Zealand qualified for the event following their stunning success at the Oceania Champs in Fiji in December where the JTB’s knocked off favourites Australia 57-51 in the final.

Group A – Americas TBA, NZ, Korea, France

Group B – Germany, Egypt, Puerto Rico, Lithuania

Group C – Canada, Japan, Spain, Mali

Group D – Iran, Angola, Italy, USA

Australian NBL

Jarrod Kenny will be the sole Kiwi representative in Australian NBL play-off basketball. The Tall Blacks guard played an important part in Perth’s two victories over the weekend. In the pivotal game on Sunday Kenny scored 8 points, including a couple of long threes, as Perth accounted for Melbourne 96-94 and in the process eliminated the Breakers.

 Neither Reuben Te Rangi or Dion Prewster, the two other Kiwis with Australian clubs, will be in play-off action as Brisbane (8th) and Sydney failed to finish in the top four. Prewster, in what has been a disappointing season for the Nelson Giants bound guard, scored two points, as Sydney Kings were defeated 101- 74 in Perth.

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Te Rangi managed 4 points, a rebound and three assists but the injury ravaged Bullets were no match for Illawarra Hawks going down 106-79. Te Rangi will now return to NZ and link up with the Southland Sharks.

Then there were Four

And then there were four!

Four Kiwis remain active in the Australian National Basketball leagues, men’s and women’s, – two in Perth and two in Townsville. Jarrod Kenny and Toni Edmondson are flying the flag out west whilst Micaela Cocks and Chevannah Paalvast are doing the same in North Queensland.

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Jarrod Kenny will be the sole Kiwi representative in Australian NBL play-off basketball. The Tall Blacks guard played an important part in Perth’s two victories over the weekend. In the pivotal game on Sunday Kenny scored 8 points, including a couple of long threes, as the defending champions accounted for Melbourne 96-94 and in the process eliminated the Breakers.

 Neither Reuben Te Rangi nor Dion Prewster, the two other Kiwis with Australian clubs, will be in play-off action as Brisbane and Sydney failed to finish in the top four. Prewster, in what has been a disappointing season for the Nelson Giants bound guard, scored two points, as Sydney Kings were thumped 101- 74 in Perth.

Te Rangi managed 4 points, a rebound and three assists but the injury ravaged Bullets were no match for Illawarra Hawks going down 106-79. Te Rangi will now return to NZ and link up with the Southland Sharks.

The WNBL play-off race is down to five teams with one round of the regular season remaining next weekend.

 

 

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It took overtime but Perth Lynx are certain of a play-offs spot after beating Melbourne Boomers 87-81 on Sunday and improving to 15-7. Toni Edmondson fouled out with 1:40 left in regulation after contributing 9 points, 3 rebounds and a steal to the Lynx cause.

 

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Micaela Cocks also scored 9 points as Townsville Fire downed Dandenong Rangers for the second consecutive weekend although fellow Tall Fern Chev Paalvast didn’t take the floor. The victory means the Fire have a 2-1 winning split on Dandenong that may be enough, depending on the results of the final round of games next week, to carry them to third spot on the WNBL ladder.

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However nothing is certain as fifth placed Canberra, who visit Townsville on Saturday, hold the series advantage over the defending champions.

Jess Bygate (Melbourne Boomers) and Jordan Hunter (Adelaide Lightning) will conclude their seasons next week with their teams filling the last two places on the ladder.

 

 

Junior Tall Blacks in Group A at World Cup

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The Junior Tall Blacks have been drawn alongside European champions France, third placed Asian qualifier Korea and a yet to be announced fourth team from the Americas at the FIBA U19 World Cup.

The 16 team event will be held in Cairo, Egypt from July 1st-9th.

New Zealand qualified for the event following their stunning success at the Oceania Champs in Fiji in December where the JTB’s knocked off favourites Australia 57-51 in the final.

Group A – Americas TBA, NZ, Korea, France

Group B – Germany, Egypt, Puerto Rico, Lithuania

Group C – Canada, Japan, Spain, Mali

Group D – Iran, Angola, Italy, USA

Three Junior Tall Blacks selected for Basketball Without Borders Camp

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Three young Kiwi basketballers have received an invitation from FIBA and the NBA to attend a global basketball camp that will be peppered with US College scouts, NBA Coaches and NBA players, albeit Sam Waardenburg has reluctantly declined the invitation due to his College commitments in the United States.

Waardenburg, Quinn Clinton and Taane Samuel attended Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Asia, held in Australia last June. After strong performances, all three were selected to attend BWB Global, an exclusive camp for only the best players from the regional 2016 camps in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe, with Clinton and Samuel taking up the invitation.

Basketball New Zealand Chief Executive, Iain Potter, says having three players selected from any nation is unique.

“The Global Basketball Without Borders camps enable FIBA and the NBA to tap into talent outside of the U.S. In the past, we were proud to have one player selected, with Matt Freeman selected in 2015 and Tai Wynyard in 2016, both of whom have gone on to secure scholarships to high ranking Universities. To have three young Kiwis selected is outstanding and an example of the exceptional basketball talent that is being produced in New Zealand,” says Potter.

Sam Waardenburg was named camp MVP of the BWB Asia camp in June while Quinn Clinton was named MVP of the camp’s All Star Game. Consequently, they were both guaranteed a spot at BWB Global. But Tanne Samuel was not automatically selected and he says the invitation letter comes as a pleasant surprise.

“I am grateful and humbled to be a part of this great event and given the opportunity. The BWB Asia camp in Australia really helped me improve as a player physically and mentally. It helped me to identify my weaknesses and work on turning that into a strength.

“To receive the elite level of coaching at BWB is a once in a lifetime opportunity and to share this with other players my age around the world is surreal. I’m really thankful,” said Samuel.

Christchurch’s Quinn Clinton is equally excited to be involved.

“I’m really looking forward to this experience. It’s going to be great for Taane and I to represent our country together and help promote New Zealand basketball on the world stage. I’m keen to learn as much as I can from the NBA coaches and players, and get an insight into what it means to play at this higher level,” said Clinton.

 

 

The international prestige of this event is gathering momentum as more BWB players are finding their way into the pinnacle events of the sport, including FIBA World Cups and the NBA. FIBA says over the years 43 alumni have been drafted into the NBA. The NBA Draft of 2016 contained three BWB Global participants, all selected in the top 10 picks. This is the third BWB Global Camp, while the NBA and FIBA have staged 48 BWB camps in 29 cities in 25 countries since 2001.

To add to the excitement of the event, BWB Global will centre around the NBA All Star Game in New Orleans. The NBA All-Star Game is a basketball exhibition game hosted annually by the NBA, which matches the league’s star players from the Eastern Conference against their counterparts from the Western Conference. Camp participants will attend and participate in NBA All Star activities throughout the weekend. The camp will also consist of basketball positional development, strength and conditioning, life-skills sessions, and games and competitions during the day.

The camp is fully funded with the players’ expenses covered, including flights. The 2017 edition of Basketball without Borders Global will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, from 17 to 19 February, 2017.

The invitation further underlines the growing reputation of the burgeoning talent pool coming out of New Zealand, with increasing numbers of young men and women securing scholarships into prestigious American Colleges.

Such opportunities further emphasize that basketball is not only a numbers game (amongst the fastest growing sports in New Zealand) but also a high performance achiever, with the New Zealand U19 Men set to appear at the FIBA Junior World Championships in Egypt in July this year, following on from their history making defeat of Australia at the Oceania Champs in 2016.

Salt impresses, Webster in good company, Karena shines

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Jack Salt had zero points (not surprising as he didn’t put up any shots), 3 rebounds, a steal plus a couple of blocks as the University of Virginia Cavaliers comfortably beat Virginia Tech 71-48 on Thursday.

On the face of it those are not stunning numbers but post game Virginia coach Tony Bennett made a telling comment, “Jack (Salt) and Isaiah (Wilkins) are the ultimate team players….I have been blessed to have so many service orientated players. Jack and Isaiah have been good, so we’ve been getting good play when our frontline is in there.”

For those of us that have followed the career of Salt it comes as little surprise to hear Bennett endorsing the unselfish attitude of his sophomore centre. Throughout his school and age-group career Salt always displayed a team first philosophy and now it is being recognized at a premier basketball college (Virginia are ranked No 9 in the nation).

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Also playing at a premier school is Tai Webster and he became the 28th player in the school’s history to score 1,000 points for Nebraska in the 81-70 loss at Iowa on Sunday – Webster scored 14 points in that one.

 Webster had claimed a game high 18 points on Friday as the Huskers went down 72-61 against Michigan State. A small matter of 15,821 turned out at Pinnacle Bank Arena to not only see the Huskers but also to pay respect to Tyronn Lue (coach of the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers) as he was in attendance to have his jersey retired.

Lue had a distinguished collegiate career at Nebraska before becoming a first-round NBA draft pick in 1998. Lue played three seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers and 11 seasons overall with seven franchises. A first-team All-Big 12 player, he won two NBA titles with the Lakers in 2000 and 2001, then guided the Cleveland Cavaliers to the 2016 NBA Championship.

Jarrod Kenny made 6 points and provided a team high 4 assists as the Perth Wildcats took a step closer to a play-off berth with a comfortable 94-63 victory against Brisbane Bullets on Friday night. Perth is aiming for a remarkable 31st consecutive appearance in the play-offs.

 In Spain Isaac Fotu scored 14 points and added 6 rebounds as Zaragoza improved to 7-12 for the season with a 102-99 victory in the Spanish League. Fotu made 5 from 8 from the field and 4 from 5 from the free throw line – collectively Zaragoza made an impressive 33 from 37 from the charity stripe.

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Mike Karena continued his good form notching 23 points (11/16FG) as Sammic ISB beat Albacete 90-83 to remain top of the LEB Silver standings, the Spanish second division, with a healthy 14-5 record. It’s the third 23 points haul of the season for the Canterbury Rams forward.

High scoring performances from a number of Tall Ferns

There were some outstanding performances by Tall Ferns overseas over the weekend including a couple of PB’s. In Australia Micaela Cocks equalled her career best to help keep Townsville on track for play-off action. Over in the States Stella Beck did record a career high whilst Penina Davidson and Kalani Purcell were outstanding for their respective colleges and in Italy Jillian Harmon helped her club Lucca stay top of the table.

American Colleges

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Penina Davidson produced one of her best performances of the season for the University of California Berkeley on Sunday as the Bears beat USC 63-56.

Neither team led by more than three points until Davidson gave the Bears a five-point cushion with 2:27 left in the game, converting a three-point play. Davidson, in a performance described on the Cal website as “electric” led her team with 17 points, two shy of her season best, and nine rebounds. With the win, the Bears improve to 5-7 in Pac-12 Conference play.

BYU bounced back from two straight losses to thump Portland 77-38 on Sunday. On Friday they had gone down 82-57 at West Coast Conference leaders Gonzaga but made no mistake in their third straight away game.

Kalani Purcell recorded her 13th double double of the season (13 points, 12 rebounds) and added a game high 7 assists for good measure. Cougars are now 8-4 in West Coast Conference play, one game back from St Mary’s in second spot

As reported yesterday Stella Beck produced a career best 28 points as St Mary’s Gaels beat San Diego 77-65 on Sunday. The performance was even more meritorious given Beck had not only missed the previous two games due to concussion but also had to be removed from the starting five as she incurred a mouth injury in the warm up.

“Stella Beck is an incredibly tough kid,” said Saint Mary’s head coach Paul Thomas. “Having her being out for the last couple games, and then in warm-ups gets hit, and then performing like that. She was just a leader today. I think that’s awesome. We need that.”

The Tall Ferns guard scored with 11 from 15 shots from the field and 6 from 9 free throws. She also garnered a team high 8 rebounds, as the Gaels remain second on the West Coast Conference ladder with a 9-3 record.

Seattle University Redhawks are 6-1 at the half way stage of Western Athletic Conference play. Jacinta Beckley scored 6 points as the Redhawks beat Utah Valley 69-51.

Australian WNBL

Micaela Cocks was in stunning form for the Townsville Fire as they convincingly defeated Dandenong Rangers 92-78. The combo guard scored a season best 25 points, which included 6 from 9 threes, and also pulled down 7 rebounds.

24 hours later, on Sunday, Townsville made it two from two on their Victorian road trip beating Bendigo Spirit 83-77. Cocks could only manage a couple of points in that one but the win, over the fifth place Spirit, virtually guaranteed the Fire a trip to the play-offs for a sixth straight season.

Perth Lynx are also play-offs bound after beating Canberra Capitals 84-72 on Sunday. Toni Edmondson scored 8 points for the Lynx.

WNBL standings with 2 rounds to play – teams play 24 regular season games and the top 4 qualify for the semi-finals.

Sydney University Flames 16-6, Dandenong Rangers 14-7, Perth Lynx 14-7, Townsville Fire 13-9, Bendigo Spirit 11-10, Canberra Capitals 11-10

Europe

Jillian Harmon continued her good form with a game high 17 points as Le Mura Lucca had little trouble in beating Broni 70-43 in Italian League action. The win means Lucca improved to 15-1 for the season and stay top of the Italian League table.

Stella Beck rebounds from injuries in style

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Stella Beck produced a career best 28 points as St Mary’s University Gaels came from behind to beat San Diego 77-65 on Sunday. The performance was even more meritorious given Beck had not only missed the previous two games due to concussion but also had to be removed from the starting five as she incurred a mouth injury in the warm up.

“I hit my teeth together which knocked the crown off my front tooth – the crown is from a WBC tournament I broke my tooth at a few years ago. But it was all good with my mouth guard in and it’s fixed now,” explained Beck speaking exclusively to the Lowdown.

“It was a very good win for us considering they beat us on the buzzer last time.” That loss was early in the West Coast Conference campaign and the Gaels have only lost two of the subsequent 10 games.

“It was a very satisfying career best, it wouldn’t have meant anything if we had lost so I’m glad we gathered the momentum when we did and carried it through until the end.

“We are on a bit of a roll, the chemistry is good and much improved. We have some tough games to close the season but it is a good time for us to be playing our best because it will give us the confidence we need to see it through,” the Tall Ferns guard added.

“Stella Beck is an incredibly tough kid,” said Saint Mary’s head coach Paul Thomas. “Having her being out for the last couple games, and then in warm-ups gets hit, and then performing like that. She was just a leader today. I think that’s awesome. We need that.”

The former Hutt Valley guard scored with 11 from 15 shots from the field and 6 from 9 free throws. She also garnered a team high 8 rebounds, as the Gaels remain second on the West Coast Conference ladder with a 9-3 record.

Busy year ahead for New Zealand age group teams

 
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Basketball New Zealand have opened 2017 by running age-group development camps and say that competition for selection is fierce with a noticeable increase of players and talent.

Chief Executive of Basketball New Zealand, Iain Potter, says with more Kiwis sinking their teeth into basketball, it’s not surprising that Basketball New Zealand’s junior development programmes are filled with future Division 1 scholarship players and talent that he is sure will feature on the world stages of Europe, U.S.A and Asia.

“We run talent camps that feed into our National Junior teams, which in turn are an important pathway for players with their eyes on Tall Black and Tall Fern jerseys. We’ve just gone through our second phase of National Age Group Selection Camps, which hosted close to 250 junior athletes who were invited to trial for the New Zealand under 16, Under 17 and Under 18 Boys and Girls junior teams,” says Potter.

“The purpose of the selection camps is to name wider squads for the first of a number of intensive preparation camps for the teams’ respective pinnacle events in 2017, which will put New Zealand teams on the stage of some impressive global stages, especially with FIBA entering New Zealand into the Asian Zone.”

Those stages are spread around the globe, beginning with Australia. The New Zealand Under 16 Boys and Girls teams will be competing at the Australian State Championships from 8-15 July in Perth. The New Zealand Select U16 Teams Boys and Girls teams, another development team, will compete at the Medibank National Junior Classic in Dandenong, Melbourne. Both are strongly fought for by Australian State teams and have had well-known alumni grace their events including Matthew Dellavedova (Milwaukee Bucks), Dante Exum, Joe Ingles (Utah Jazz), Patty Mills (San Antonio Spurs), Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers).

Moving further into Asia and the New Zealand Under 17 Boys and Girls teams will compete at the FIBA Asian Championships – the girls event will be held in October in Chennai, India. The hosts for the boys’ event are yet to be announced.

The New Zealand Under 18 Boys and Girls teams will compete at the FIBA Men’s Oceania Championships from 9-16 July in Guam.

For the members of these younger teams, they also have their sights set on a place in the Junior Tall Blacks and Junior Tall Ferns. The honour of that selection seems all the more prestigious after a herculean effort to knock over the vastly-favoured Australian side out of the Oceania Championships last December, and so the New Zealand Junior Tall Blacks have qualified to compete at the FIBA World U19 Men’s Championships this coming July in Cairo, Egypt.

“Our young players are capturing the global basketball community’s eye and proving themselves to be worthy of respect,” says Potter.

“We are continuing to foster this evolution of talent. Despite minimal high performance funding for a big sport like ours, we are blessed with coaches and support staff throughout the country who love the game and devote themselves to helping our juniors. These junior players’ parents sacrifice a lot of time and money to give their kids an opportunity to compete on the world stage. Also local associations around the country work tirelessly to give junior platers opportunities to develop their skills to meet the expectations of national squad selectors.”

A lot of the that devotion to talent is recognised at the National Development Camps where Mr Potter says it’s not just athletic ability that’s tested, but there is a strong focus on how players conduct themselves off the court.

“At the talent camps we look at how we can best support these young athletes. This year we offered a number of strength and conditioning, injury prevention, and social awareness workshops. We brought in the social awareness aspects by working with the Ministry of Social Development and the ‘Are you that someone?’ campaign and the ‘It’s Not OK’ campaign to discuss sexual and family violence. It’s modules like these that focus our players attention on how they should conduct themselves in situations that could confront them as sporting stars, and to think about their role as leaders in their communities back home. So not only do we want to educate and create awareness of the demands on a national athlete in international competition, but we also preach the responsibilities they have off the court.”

Webster continues to shine plus news on other TB’s overseas

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The Nebraska Huskers broke a five game losing streak with a hard earned 83-80 victory against No 20 Purdue on Sunday. Nebraska began Big Ten Conference play with a hiss and a roar winning three straight games so will be relieved to get back in the winners circle.

Since that opening salvo, despite Tai Webster’s outstanding form, they had been unable to claim another W until Sunday. Webster made 15 points and added 8 rebounds and 6 assists as the Huskers improve to 4-5 in Big Ten action.

On Thursday Webster posted a game high 23 points for the Huskers, his eighth 20-point game of the season, as they went down 73-61 against Northwestern.

Jack Salt had 4 points and 3 rebounds for Virginia Cavaliers in a high octane Atlantic Coast Conference encounter. Unfortunately for Salt No12 Virginia fell to No. 1 Villanova 61-59 to a buzzer-beater tip-in. The Cavs are now 6-3 in Conference games.

Sacramento State improved to 4-4 in the Big Sky Conference after recording an 80-77 overtime win against Portland State. Izayah Le’Afa contributed 5 points, 3 rebounds, a pair of assists and a steal for the Hornets.

 

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Reuben Te Rangi is punching above his weight for the Brisbane Bullets at present. Due to an injury crisis at the Bullets Te Rangi is having to play a lot of minutes in the power forward spot and is making a pretty good fist of it. He played 19 minutes in the 80-77 loss against Sydney Kings on Friday scoring 6 points without missing a shot – 2/2FG and 2/2FT’s.

Jarrod Kenny made a couple of key plays as the Perth Wildcats point guard kept their play-off hopes alive with a narrow victory against Melbourne United.

 

 In Spain Zaragoza’s slide down the Liga Endesa table continued as they lost 81-77 at Bilbao. Zaragoza (6-12) are now 13th on the 17 team ladder.

Isaac Fotu received the Best Sixth Man award from Gigantes del Basket a leading basketball publication in Spain. The Tall Blacks forward, in his third season in the Liga Endesa and his second season with Zaragoza scored 4 points and garnered 7 rebounds against Bilbao.

Fellow Tall Blacks forward Mike Karena scored 12 points as Sammic ISB cruised to a 93-57 win against Navarra in the Spanish second tier competition. Sammic, with a 13-5 record, now head the LEB Silver standings.