Monthly Archives: October 2016

Gerrand soars as Birdmen beat Sixers

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Jaylen Gerrand

Justin Bailey will lead the Birdmen but due to his Breakers team management commitments he was unavailable for their Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam opening game against Mai FM 88 Sixers on Saturday.

Jaylen Gerrand filled the void in style scoring a week one high 37 points to ease the Sixers to a comfortable 94-86 win against the Birdmen.

Both teams were missing key players but it was the Sixers that started the strongest forging an 18-15 lead.

That was turned around late in the first as Ana Haku landed a couple of corner threes to take Mai FM 88 Sixers to a 23-20 first quarter advantage.

Gerrand had the hot hands in the second scoring inside and out as the Birdmen moved to a 38-29 lead.

Brandon Lucas, a graduate from East Central University, Oklahoma, was also showing some nice scoring touch for the Birdmen and his match up with Haku was interesting to watch.

Guard Chris McIntosh knocked down a jump shot on the half-time buzzer that kept the Sixers in touch, 40-39, behind at the interval. Gerrand led all scorers with 23 points, Haku 19 points for the Sixers.

Forward Alex Schipper threw down a dunk for the Birdmen but a brace of Haku threes and inside baskets from Patrice Bolstad and Johnny Fesolai plus transition points from Manny Matabanadzo took the Sixers to a six point lead before the Birdmen took flight.

The back end of the third was one way traffic in favour of the Birdmen, their scoring surge highlighted by three consecutive threes from Lucas – 71-64 at three-quarter time.

Nick Barrow and Bolstad wheeled away inside for the Sixers but Gerrand and the support cast of Tipene Friday and the Aruwa brothers held all the answers in the fourth.

Final score;

The Birdmen 94 – Gerrand 37, Lucas 22, Sam Aruwa 11, Samson Aruwa 10, Friday 8

Mai FM 88 Sixers 86 – Haku 28, Matabanadzo 17, Bolstad 10, Barrow 9, Lacey 8, McIntosh 8

The Women’s competition begins next Saturday, November 5th.

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Tait and Nelson Street prove too strong for Breakers D squad

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Jordan Ngatai led the Breakers scoring

The Breakers Development team ran into a road jam that was 68A Nelson Street in the fourth quarter of the opening game of the 2016 Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam. The Breakers led 76-75 entering the final period but could only muster 15 points in the final ten minutes going down 100-91.

Earlier Jordan Ngatai, the only senior player in the Breakers lineup, scored the first five points for the hosts as they opened an early lead. Lindsay Tait and Marco Alexander began finding holes in the Breakers defence and a typical Tait drive tied the scored at 18 apiece.

Ngatai and Dan Fotu drew fouls late in the period to work their way to the foul line and take Breakers to a 32-22 quarter time lead.

Linus Jakzst in transition and Dillon Boucher in the paint reduced the Breakers advantage. Cruz Perrot-Hunt landed a three but Liam Thornton responded with a trey of his own for Nelson St.

A couple of Hyrum Harris buckets reduced the lead to 41-39 before Waardenburg provided a highlight dunk down the lane.

Tyler Kerlin tied the scores at 45 apiece, Boucher taking Nelson St ahead for the first time in the game although a James Moors bucket gave Breakers a 50-49 half-time lead.

Nelson St opened the second with an 8-0 run – six of them to Jakzst -before Letoa initiated a response from the Breakers.

The Westlake point guard began a threes barrage as he and Thomas Whyte landed from long range for Breakers and Daniel Green and Tait did likewise for Nelson St.

A couple of Fotu baskets edged Breakers to that single figure three-quarter lead before the Nelson St outfit took command in the final period – Thornton and Jakzst combining well with their more experienced colleagues to seal the win.

Final score:

68A Nelson Street 100 – Tait 23, Alexander 18, Thornton 16, Jakzst 14, Harris 10

Breakers Development 91 – Ngatai 22, Waardenburg 18, Fotu 16, Letoa 14, Perrott-Hunt 7, Cam Stone 7

2016 Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam underway on Saturday

 

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Justin Bailey

The 2016 version of the Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam gets underway on Saturday with the traditional mixture of young, not so young and veteran players making up the four Men’s teams.

The Women’s competition begins the following week, November 5th.

Justin Bailey will lead the Birdmen. Bailey a former NBL import is back in New Zealand and managing the SKYCITY Breakers team this season. Bailey won a championship with the Waikato Pistons in 2009 and last played professionally with Harbour Heat in 2012.

The support cast around Bailey will include BJ Anthony, Tipene Friday, Carl Buck and Jaylen Gerrand.

The Mai FM 88 Sixers will also have an American accent running the point with Kevin Braswell in charge. NBL regulars Josh Bloxham, Brook Ruscoe, Ana Haku and Nick Barrow will form the core for the Sixers.

Lindsay Tait will once again lead 68A Nelson Street (for many years the home of Youthtown before sadly closing a couple of years ago).

Tait will have the support of Dillon Boucher and a number of guards including Joe Webb, Tyler Kerlin, Marco Alexander and Dan Green.

The four team competition is rounded out by the Breakers Development squad that boasts senior players Ethan Rusbatch, Derone Raukawa, Finn Delany and Jordan Ngatai. The availability of these players will obviously be dependent on the needs of the senior team.

A strong bunch of Academy players will join the senior quartet including Isaac Letoa, Taki Fahrensohn, Brayden Inger, Dan Fotu and Sam Waardenburg.

It is also possible that the Breakers will be boosted by the inclusion of Shea Ili next month as he continues his recovery after incurring a stress fracture in his back earlier in the year.

The first game on Saturday at Atlas Place will feature Breakers Development v 68A Nelson Street at 2pm followed by The Birdmen v Mai FM 88 Sixers at 4pm. Entry is free.

Harmon’s performance the best of Kiwis overseas last week

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Jillian Harmon

Jillian Harmon produced the top performance last week by a New Zealand international overseas.

Harmon scored 16 points for Le Mura Lucca (for the second successive game) as they beat Ragusa 62-46 in the Italian League. The Tall Ferns forward secured 5 rebounds for good measure.

Micaela Cocks scored 11 points and added 4 rebounds for Townsville Fire as they went down to Sydney University Flames 69-68. It was a poor weekend for the Fire losing both road games and slipping to 2-2 in the Australian WNBL.

It was a better weekend for Toni Edmondson as she produced a very useful stat line of 8 points (4/6FG), 7 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal as Perth Lynx improved to 3-2 for the season

Bubbling under last week:

Dion Prewster 9 points (3/7 3PG) in just 12 minutes as Sydney Kings defeat Illawarra Hawks.

Mike Karena had 6 points and 7 rebounds as Sammic ISB were thumped 71-41 by Albacete the Spanish Second Division competition. Sammic were previously unbeaten entering game four of the season but suffered a rude awakening in this one.

Isaac Fotu 7 points and 3 rebounds as Zaragoza return to winning ways defeating UCAM Murcia in Spanish Liga Endesa.

Jess Bygate 6 points and 3 rebounds as Melbourne Boomers beat Bendigo Spirit 71-67 and move to the top of the WNBL ladder

In other News:

 Jarrod Kenny played just 3:44 as Perth Wildcats defeated United in Melbourne. The former Westlake standout left the court with a groin strain and could be out of action for 3-4 weeks. To compound Perth’s problems the Wildcats have also lost fellow point guard Damian Martin for a couple of weeks with a jaw fracture.

Tough decisions ahead for JTB’s and JTF’s selectors

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A successful HoopNation Tournament in Tauranga finished with the Junior Tall Ferns claiming the Elite Women’s title and the Junior Tall Blacks finishing runners-up in the Elite Men’s competition.

The JTF’s under the guidance of head coach Brent Matehaere looked a well oiled machine, particularly when Charlisse Leger-Walker was on the court. Her presence on the floor invariably took the team to a higher gear. Leger-Walker’s Waikato teammate Kendell Heremaia is also a dynamic performer with a motor that never stops purring.

There are plenty of other components to this outfit and some useful parts will have to be left on the side of the road when the final selections are made.

Daryl Cartwright and his JTB’s selection committee will face the same issue.

Talented players will not be on the road to Fiji, or more precisely the flight, come December.

At HoopNation the team struggled to get into automatic due to a combination of factors but primarily a lack of game time together was the major contributor to some stop start performances.

Having said that there is quality galore for the coaching staff to piece together.

Who wouldn’t want to try and mesh the likes of Clinton, Fahrensohn, Fotu, Letoa, McDonald, McRae, Samuel and Waardenburg. The 2016 vintage could be quite something.

In the final the JTB’s faced a Choppers team that boasted four current or former Tall Blacks – Lindsay Tait, Leon Henry, Ethan Rusbatch and BJ Anthony in their lineup. Tait opened the scoring as the Choppers embarked on an 11-0 run eventually broken by a Hamish McDonald jump shot. Taane Samuel added another basket but the JTB’s trailed 16-4 at quarter time.

A Sam Waardenburg three and two’s from Isaac Letoa, Angus McWilliam and Samuel in the second period kept the score ticking over for the JTB’s but they had a mountain to climb at half-time trailing 28-14.

The JTB’s cause was further hampered by an 8-0 Choppers run to open the third. Despite a three from Josh Aitcheson, inside buckets from Dan Fotu and Callum McRae and a brace of baskets from Letoa the third quarter ended with Choppers 43-27 ahead.

Even with a couple of Taki Fahrensohn jumpers Choppers were almost 20 points to the good early in the final quarter. However the crowd was brought to life by threes on three consecutive possessions from Cantabrian Quinn Clinton. With Samuel also scoring three baskets the JTB’s closed to within 9 points, 58-49, inside the final three minutes. Waardenburg closed the gap further but the experienced Choppers team was able to make their free throws down the stretch to claim the trophy with a 66-53 victory.

Cartwright was philosophical after the defeat.

“We got a little bit of a lesson from some veterans. Not performing the basics hurt us, we were too careless with the ball turning it over and our transition defence wasn’t good enough. There were good lessons for us there because if we had taken care of those things we would have been in a position to compete.”

Earlier in the day the JTB’s faced the Fraser High ‘old boys’ F Gang in the semi-final.

After trailing 9-3 early on a couple of Samuel baskets helped propel the JTB’s to a 14-9 quarter time lead.

A tight second period concluded with the JTB’s holding a slender 25-24 lead. Waardenburg scored five points in the quarter and McRae kept his team ahead with a basket in the final minute of the period.

The third period was equally tight as F Gang refused to give ground to the JTF’s. Canterbury forward McWilliam made a couple of neat baskets and Flynn Cameron a late pair of freebies but the lead was just 34-30 to the JTF’s at the last break.

Fotu made an And 1 play to open the final stanza but with the fouls mounting the final minutes became a free throw shoot out. Flynn Cameron and Letoa kept F Gang at bay, as did the outstanding Samuel. Letoa capped a fine defensive exhibition by grabbing a steal and a break away lay-up to seal a tense 53-47 victory in the final twenty seconds of the game.

Overall coach Cartwright was pleased with his team’s effort.

“We needed games and it was also good to be in a camp environment to see how guys were on and off the floor. It has given us the opportunity to assess different combinations and we are still trying to settle on our final twelve so we have been evaluating some of the players to fill the final spots.”

Junior Tall Blacks Results:

Day 3

Final, Lost 66-53 v Choppers – Samuel 10, Clinton 10, Waardenburg 9, Letoa 6, Fahrensohn 5

Semi-Final, Won 53-47 v F Gang – Samuel 10, Letoa 7, Fotu 6, Waardenburg 6, McWilliam 6

Day 2

Won 43-39 v Junior Mountainairs – Fotu 12, Samuel 11, Letoa 6, Waardenburg 6

Won 57-48 v Rack City – Fahensohn 12, Letoa 10, Le’aupepe 8, McWilliam 6, F Cameron 6

Day 1

Won 56-36 v Victoria Uni – Waardenburg 17, McDonald 8, F Cameron 7, Clinton 6

Won 62-53 v Harbour Heat – Clinton 13, Fotu 12, Waardenburg 12, Fahrensohn 6

Won 84-28 v ‘IATE – McDonald 12, Le’aupepe 10, Aitcheson 9, Fahrensohn 8

 

The Junior Tall Ferns, boasting an unbeaten record, faced Waitakere Lady Rangers in the Elite Women’s Grand Final.

Tall Ferns Megan Craig and Josie Stockill anchored the Rangers frontcourt and their battle with JTF’s forwards Charlotte Whittaker, Esra McGoldrick and Kendell Heremaia was intriguing to observe.

Stockill showed her intentions early on with a defensive block and 4 points as the Rangers opened a 6 points advantage before Tiarna Clarke opened the Junior Tall Ferns account with a drive for two and a jumper for three. A pair of Charlisse Leger-Walker free throws edged the JTF’s ahead 7-6 at quarter time.

Esra McGoldrick scored four points in the second period and Leger-Walker three as the JTF’s retained a single point advantage, 14-13, at half-time.

The third quarter was largely one way traffic as Zara Jillings and Charlotte Whittaker made baskets before Jayden Fuiava closed the period with a three and a lay-up to open up a 29-17 three-quarter time lead.

Six combined points from Stockill and Craig briefly threatened the JTF’s lead but a pair of jump shots from Kendell Heremaia and a basket in the paint from Whittaker restored a double figure advantage, 36-26, with two minutes to play. Stockill took her personal haul to 14 points but Jillings had the final say with a corner three to take the JTF’s to a deserved 39-30 victory.

Junior Tall Ferns Results:

Day 3

Grand Final, Won 39-30 v Lady Rangers – Leger-Walker 8, Clarke 6, Whittaker 6, Jillings 6, Fuiava 5

Day 2

Won 66-19 v ‘IATE – Leger-Walker 11, Fuiava 11, Clarke 9, Jillings 6, Whittaker 6, Dunn 6

Won 39-31 v Muppets – Clarke 9, Fuiava 9, Leger-Walker 8

Won 44-29 v All Stars – McGoldrick 10, Ruske 6, Whittaker 6

Day 1

Won 41-31 v Phoenix – McGoldrick 8, Heremaia 7, Fuiava 4, Whittaker 4

Won 60-31 v Expired – Heremaia 17, McGoldrick 8, Clarke 7, Fuiava 7, How 6, Dunn 6

Won 54-34 v Lady Rangers – Walker-Pitman 7, Whittaker 6, McGoldrick 6

Matehaere was delighted with the efforts of his charges during the tournament.

“The weekend has been good for us, we’ve had an opportunity to try a few things out. We’ve had a chance to look at different groups, try different combinations and give us more of an understanding of how they interact together.

“The good thing from the coaches perspective is that all the players have shown their skill sets during the tournament which makes the selection process even more difficult. Their strengths continue to be the same but you can see the work they have done on other aspects of their game have also improved they keep on getting better and better.

“All the teams at HoopNation have come out and thrown it at us and that has been good. That has helped prepare us for the big challenge that we have ahead of us,” Matehaere added.

For both squads this was the last competitive hit out before the teams are announced ahead of the FIBA Oceania Championships in Fiji.

The Championships, to be played in December, will double as the qualifying tournament for the 2017 FIBA Under 19 World Championships.

Junior Tall Ferns Squad

Tiarna Clarke (North Harbour), Aliyah Dunn (Southland), Jayden Fuiava (Queensland, Australia), Kendell Heremaia (Waikato), Alyssa Hirawani (Waikato), Joellen How (Taranaki), Zara Jillings (North Harbour), Charlisse Leger-Walker (Waikato), Esra McGoldrick (Canterbury), Bayley Ransfield (Taranaki), Nicole Ruske (Otago), Stirling Walker-Pitman (Waikato), Charlotte Whittaker (North Canterbury).

Junior Tall Blacks Squad

Josh Aitcheson (Otago), Flynn Cameron (Australia), Tobias Cameron (Australia), Quinn Clinton (Canterbury), Taki Fahrensohn (Waitakere West), Dan Fotu (North Harbour), Corey Le’aupepe (Wellington), Isaac Letoa (North Harbour), Hamish McDonald (Waikato), Callum McRae (Palmerston North), Angus McWilliam (Canterbury), Taane Samuel (Wellington), Sam Waardenburg (North Harbour)

Junior Tall Ferns and Junior Tall Blacks head to Tauranga

 

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The Junior Tall Blacks and Junior Tall Ferns squads have been announced ahead of the Hoop Nation Tournament being held in Tauranga this Labour Weekend.

The largest club tournament in the country will provide the JTF’s and JTB’s with stiff opposition as both teams will be playing adult club and invitational sides, some with a sprinkling of senior internationals.

For both squads this will be the last competitive hit out before the teams are announced ahead of December’s FIBA Oceania Championships in Fiji, which will double as the qualifying tournament for the 2017 FIBA Under 19 World Championships.

The Junior Tall Ferns squad is very similar to the one that faced the China Under 19 team in two international games last month, although the American based pair of McKenna Dale and Akiene Reed will not be required to return home for this event. That said, Otago guard Nicole Ruske returns to the squad, as does Queensland based Jayden Fuiava. JTF’s head coach Brent Matehaere is pleased to have both players in the squad.

“Jayden averaged 18 points per game at the Australian Under 18 National Championships and is intending to play in the Australian WNBL after completing her final school year at John Paul College in Brisbane. She is an exciting prospect who we were put in touch with by Pero Cameron, who identified her talent. She has been invited to Australian national camps, but has decided she wants to play for New Zealand.

“Nicole is still struggling with injury a little, but she is going to push through as we are making final selections following this tournament,” added Matehaere.

The focus for Matehaere is individual and team performances, rather than the results in this tournament.

“We will be looking to perform what we need to do to the best of our abilities, as this weekend we have a big onus on selection. We will be looking to make sure that we have the right mix of players.”

The Junior Tall Blacks team will also be named later this year, not long after the Hoop Nation event and Cartwright is delighted with the depth of talent he has available at his disposal.

“It is a nice headache to have. You would rather be in the position where you are struggling to separate guys than trying to find players to fill a spot.

“It is pretty tough to leave out guys who have been in the squad for 16 months, but we have to make a decision on the best talent we have available to give ourselves a shot at beating Australia. That is what we are about and we need to be confident we have the best group we can put forward,” Cartwright added.

“I just want to see these guys get a shot at playing at a World Championship. We are trying to make history and beat Australia to qualify,” added Cartwright.

Players and fellow coaches alike will echo those sentiments.

Junior Tall Ferns Squad for Hoop Nation Tournament
Tiarna Clarke (North Harbour), Aliyah Dunn (Southland), Jayden Fuiava (Queensland, Australia), Kendell Heremaia (Waikato), Alyssa Hirawani (Waikato), Joellen How (Taranaki), Zara Jillings (North Harbour), Charlisse Leger-Walker (Waikato), Esra McGoldrick (Canterbury), Bayley Ransfield (Taranaki), Nicole Ruske (Otago), Stirling Walker-Pitman (Waikato), Charlotte Whittaker (Canterbury).

Junior Tall Blacks Squad for Hoop Nation Tournament
Josh Aitcheson (Otago), Flynn Cameron (Australia), Tobias Cameron (Australia), Quinn Clinton (Canterbury), Taki Fahrensohn (Waitakere West), Dan Fotu (North Harbour), Corey Le’aupepe (Wellington), Isaac Letoa (North Harbour), Hamish McDonald (Waikato), Callum McRae (Palmerston North), Angus McWilliam (Canterbury), Taane Samuel (Wellington), Sam Waardenburg (North Harbour)

Top six Kiwi performances overseas last week

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Krystal Leger-Walker

Pride of place this week goes to the New Zealand Women’s team at the 2016 FIBA 3×3 World Championships in China as we reflect on a busy week for Kiwis overseas.

The New Zealand team comprised of Georgia Agnew (Waikato), Breana Jones (Auckland/Counties) and the Tall Ferns pair of Deena Franklin (North Harbour) and Krystal Leger-Walker (Waikato).

The team boasted a 3-1 record in pool play and normally would expect to advance to play-off action but the Kiwis were denied by points differential as Netherlands (15.5 pts per game average) and Ukraine (14.5) marginally bettered NZ (14.0) as all three teams finished with a 3-1 record in Pool A. Unfortunately New Zealand missed out on quarter-final action.

Overall this was a fine effort by the New Zealand team to perform strongly at a World Championship event. The team was seeded 16th of the 20 participating nations and defeated three higher ranked teams before being squeezed out by a three points differential.

Franklin (26 points) and Agnew (24 points) both featured in the top 20 scorers in the tournament. There was a degree of compensation for Agnew, who has just returned to NZ after four years at Utah Valley University, as she took the bronze medal in the Skills Contest at the tournament.

The second best performance belonged to Isaac Fotu, the power forward scoring a highly efficient 16 points (8/11FG) to go with 8 rebounds. His effort couldn’t prevent Zaragoza slipping to a third Spanish League defeat in four outings as they lost 87-84 to Sevilla.

Coming in at number three was Jillian Harmon. The Tall Ferns forward scored 16 points for Le Mura Lucca who were beaten 69-68 by Napoli in the Italian League.

Mike Karena, on the back of a perfect shooting night, claimed fourth spot. The 2016 Tall Blacks rookie notched 10 points (5/5FG), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal and a block as Sammic ISB made it three from three in the Spanish Second Division competition. Sammic beat Navarro 63-56.

Fifth was Jess Bygate who had a nice double of 8 points and 8 rebounds in a starting role for Melbourne Boomers on Saturday. Unfortunately for the Boomers and Bygate they were outscored 25-17 in the fourth to go down 88-85 to Perth Lynx in a tight WNBL encounter.

Rounding out the top six was Jarrod Kenny. He scored 9 points including the go ahead triple in the fourth quarter for Perth Wildcats as they held off the Breakers in the Perth Arena on Friday night.

Also worthy of mention are the Cook Islands women’s team and the New Zealand Men’s team that also competed at the 3×3 World Champs. Both teams exited after pool play with a 0-4 record but the collective 8 losses were all against higher ranked teams.

Any players attending a FIBA World Championship event should be congratulated on a rare achievement regardless of the results.

The North Harbour pair of Rory Fannon and Karl Noyer plus Nick Fee and Hamish Sheridan represented New Zealand Men from Waikato. Noyer led the NZ scoring with 20 points.

The quartet of Johaana Bates, Adoniah Lewis, Janet Main and Terai Sadler, familiar names in NZ women’s basketball circles, made up the Cook Islands team.

Bubbling under last week:

 Micaela Cocks and Chevannah Paalvast each scored 6 points as Townsville Fire thumped Adelaide Lightning 85-56. Jordan Hunter made it a half dozen trifecta for the Kiwis by landing 6 points for Adelaide as they struggled to compete with the WNBL defending champs.

Toni Edmondson had 4 rebounds and a team high 6 assists for Perth Lynx but it wasn’t a shooting performance to remember for the Cantabrian. The Lynx went down 94-74 at Dandenong with Edmondson a cold 1 from 10 from the field managing just 3 points.

Dion Prewster made his first appearance of the season for the Sydney Kings scoring a couple of points as the Kings defeated Illawarra Hawks 88-84 to hand Andrew Gaze his first W as head coach of Sydney.

Vukona closes in on 300th Breakers appearance

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Mika Vukona will become the first SKYCITY Breakers player to appear in 300 games for the club when he takes the floor against Sydney Kings at North Shore Events Centre on Thursday night.

In his usual unassuming fashion, come Thursday, he will be on the court before the game announcer has reached the second syllable of his name. There will be no pausing or hand waving to acknowledge the applause – it will be game time and that means business for the club’s talisman.

However he did take time out after team training on Monday to reflect on the milestone and his 12 seasons with the Breakers.

“I’m in a good place. The organization has enabled me to get to the 300 games and it’s been an enjoyable time. When you are in a good environment, a good family situation, you always want to be there. There are times when it’s hard but it is just awesome to come back here. I guess winning makes a massive difference. When you win championships you just want to come back and keep getting more.”

Vukona has a particular attachment to a number of the people he began his journey with. “Dillon (Boucher), Pauli (Henare), Paul Blackwell, the Blackwell family. All those guys have influenced everything that I have done in those 300 games, its pretty massive,” he said.

He remembers his first game fondly, “It was the first game the Breakers ever played, I was a development player and I had the opportunity to come on in garbage time and it was awesome. The first time to come on as a young player and the house was rocking, it was good.”

For the record Vukona, just 21 at the time, scored a couple of points as the Breakers won that inaugural game 111-110 against Adelaide 36ers.

When quizzed on his favourite moment(s) with the club it’s the first championship with the Breakers that comes readily to mind.

“The 2011 championship. Going through the things that we had to get over, the trip to Perth, coming back, we had injuries that we had been going through. We had an amazing time that whole year and to cap it off with Pauli being able to walk away after winning the championship was awesome.”

The 34 year old acknowledges he has to refine his game, as he gets older, “I’m just maturing a little bit better”, he quipped.

“I have to make adjustments because if I don’t you get left behind and with the league going up another couple of levels you have to do that. And even in trainings here the guys are getting younger and it is something that I have had to learn. But it also a thing keeps me going even more. It is another challenge, it is something that excites me and it is something that I want to keep driving for and keep proving myself. The day that I can’t and my body says no will be the time to walk away,” he added.

Fortunately for Breakers fans that time is likely to be some way away, “I’m looking forward to many more appearances,” the 5 times NBL champion declared.

Perhaps not what opposition players want to hear.

Below are the Mika numbers for the Breakers but unfortunately there are no records kept of the loose balls garnered, box outs completed, defensive deflections produced and athletic rebounds he had no right to secure.

299 – Most Games Played

161 -Most consecutive games played (2010-2015)

171 – Most Wins by a Breakers player

2,034 – Most rebounds

36 Double doubles – 2nd all time for Breakers

2239 Points – 3rd a/t

213 steals – 3rd a/t

550 assists – 4th a/t

91 blocks – 4th a/t

NZ Women just edged out at 3×3 World Champs – Cook Islands also exit

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The New Zealand Women’s team only lost once at the FIBA 3×3 World Championships in Guangzhou, China but fell agonisingly short of a quarter final berth.

Any team boasting a 3-1 record in pool play could normally expect to advance to play-off action but the Kiwis were denied by points differential as Netherlands (15.5 pts per game average) and Ukraine (14.5) marginally bettered NZ (14.0) as all three teams finished with a 3-1 record in Pool A .

The New Zealand team comprised of Georgia Agnew (Waikato), Breana Jones (Auckland/Counties) and the Tall Ferns pair of Deena Franklin (North Harbour) and Krystal Leger-Walker (Waikato).

Leger-Walker took time out from her pre-season commitments at the University of Northern Colorado where she is about to embark on her freshman season to compete.

Agnew has just returned to New Zealand having completed four years at Utah Valley University where she played 72 games for the Wolverines.

Deena Franklin was an integral member of the Tall Ferns squad during the 2016 international season playing in all 15 games of their international programme.

Breana Jones was a key member of the Auckland Counties Manukau Lady Hawks team this year.

NZ made a good start on Day one defeating Poland (seeded 9th) 13-10 and Ukraine (8th) 14-12. On Day 2 they were well beaten by top seeds Netherlands 20-9 but bounced back to beat Indonesia (15th) 20-18.

Overall this was a fine effort by the New Zealand team to perform strongly at a World Championship event. The team was seeded 16th of the 20 participating nations and defeated three higher ranked teams before being squeezed out by three points on differential.

There was a degree of compensation for Agnew who took the bronze medal in the Skills Contest.

The Cook Islands team, with players that were or are domiciled in New Zealand, were also competing at the World Champs.

The quartet of Johaana Bates, Adoniah Lewis, Janet Main and Terai Sadler were the 19th seeded team but almost upset both China (12th), going down 11-9, and 5th seed Czech Republic (lost 15-13) on Day one.

Unfortunately ‘The Cooks’ ran out of gas on Day 2 going down heavily to France (4th) 21-6 and Romania (13th) 14-5 to also exit the competition after pool play.

The Cook Islands foursome is well known in New Zealand basketball circles. Sadler was a member of the Canterbury Wildcats WBC title winning team in 2016 and Main won the title with Oceana Gold Rush Otago in 2015.

Lewis, a former Waitakere Lady Rangers guard played most recently for Werribee Devils in Melbourne whilst Bates, a former Rotorua age group rep, is now living in Japan.

NZ Women 2-0 at FIBA 3×3 World Champs

 

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Deena Franklin

 The New Zealand women’s 3×3 team has won two from two in their hard fought opening matches at the FIBA 3×3 World Championships, and are looking hopeful for the playoffs with the top two teams of each pool proceeding. This is a big effort given the New Zealand women are the lowest ranked team in their pool at 16th.

 Game one: NEW ZEALAND WOMEN V UKRAINE 

Their first game against the eighth ranked Ukraine was an impressive scalp for the Kiwis. New Zealand started slowly and was down in the first half, but slowly reeled in Ukraine to lead for the last minute of the game. Head Coach Anthony Corban said all players contributed and the win should be notched up to a well-synced team effort.

“Krystal Leger-Walker captained the team well. Her tactical ability to read the game and change things up were crucial down the business end of the game. Georgia Agnew was a nightmare for their guards to handle and made some crucial baskets. And Deena Franklin was a mountain of strength on the boards and scoring in the low post.”

 The cherry on top was Krystal slot-pass being named the fourth best play of the day.

 Final Score New Zealand 14, Ukraine 12.

 Game two: NEW ZEALAND WOMEN V POLAND

Again New Zealand came backed up their dark-horse status by rolling ninth ranked Poland in their second game of the day. Corban said both teams were feeling the effects of tough opening games, with the hot humid conditions taking their toll on many athletes at the event. Yet the Kiwis stuck to their game-one plan, proving it to be equally successful in game two.

 “Again our double guard punch of Georgia and Krystal were too quick for their opponents. And Deena Franklin was again outstanding, monstering her opponents in the low post and rebounding.”

 Final Score New Zealand 13, Ukraine 10.

 Next up for the New Zealand women’s team is the number one ranked Netherlands, followed by 15th rank Indonesia, which rounds out the Pool A matches. Both matches will be played on Friday.

 INDIVIDUAL SKILLS CONTEST

Georgia Agnew has made the final of the individual skills contest and will compete for the title on Day 4 at 11.30pm NZ time

NZ MEN

The New Zealand Men’s team has been struggling against stronger opposition, out-ranked and out-played against seasoned and mostly professional teams.

 Game one: NZ MEN V RUSSIA

New Zealand went basket for basket with the big Russian team for most of the game, until Russia had a strong run towards the end. Head Coach Anthony Corban says the game changer for the Kiwis was a disputed technical foul on New Zealand.

 “We were down one with three minutes to go and got a deflection, and one referee awarded us the possession. The other referee then technicalled one of our players for taunting – when he was clapping his team mate for working hard. It changed the momentum of the game, and Russia were then up two, then hit a two off the next play. Our boys just ran out of steam and melted in the hot and humid conditions.”

 Final Score: NZ 12 –  RUSSIA 22

 Game two: NZ MEN V ITALY

New Zealand encountered a tight unit in their loss to Italy. Coach Corban says it was a fairly dominant performance by the team more suited to the conditions.

 “As a group we lacked defensive energy and that showed early on when Italy feasted off our poor box outs and racked up five offensive rebounds in a row. The short turn around in games left us struggling to stay in the game over the last minute. The Italians were thriving in the hot and humid conditions while we struggled.”

Final Score: NZ 11 –  RUSSIA 21

New Zealand has two more tough assignments when they round out pool play on Thursday. They face No 1 seeds Serbia after facing No 15 Qatar.

 TEAM ROSTERS

New Zealand 3×3 Women’s Team: Georgia Agnew (Waikato Basketball), Deena Franklin (Harbour Basketball), Breana Jones (Counties Manukau Basketball Association), Krystal Leger-Walker (Waikato Basketball Council).

New Zealand 3×3 Men’s Team: Rory Fannon (Harbour Basketball), Nicholas Fee (Waikato Basketball), Karl Noyer (Harbour Basketball), Hamish Sheridan (Waikato Basketball).