The Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC) is set to tip off tomorrow, with the 13 teams from two divisions releasing their rosters this week.
A Division One game will be livestreamed on each of the three days. The opening game of the season in Division 1 sees Harbour Breeze take on Waikato Wizards at 4.00pm at Cowles Stadium.
Peppered with Tall Ferns, NZ Select and elite age-group players, the 2019 Division 1 season is promising to be the best yet. Early indications suggest the Am I Fit Otago Goldrush will have a tough time retaining their title if they are to overcome the talented line-ups from the Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats, Auckland Dream, Harbour Breeze, Taranaki Thunder and the Waikato Wizards.
In Division 2 , the championship is wide open and until the opening tournament tips off tomorrow afternoon at Cowles Stadium in Christchurch, the favourites are hard to pick.
A number of current and former Tall Ferns will take the floor this weekend. The Auckland Dream have an all-star line-up including Tall Ferns Captain Natalie Taylor and her three sister Kalani Purcell, Charmain Mellars, and Hailey Moala. Experience Tall Ferns guard and Commonwealth Games Bronze medallist Jordan Hunter will be there too. Tall Ferns Assistant Coach, Aik Ho, takes the lead coaching role with Tania Hunter (Jordan’s Mum) as assistant.
The Wildcats will be strong contenders with the ever-competitive guard in Shea Crotty. She’ll be linking with Tall Fern Tessa Boagni and the exciting Russian talent that is Marita Davydova. The Cantabrians also bring a swathe of current or former New Zealand age-group reps.
The Am I Fit Goldrush bring a strong list of returning players that helped take the 2018 title. Veteran Natalie Smith will captain the team with Tall Fern Nicole Ruske will undoubtedly lead from the guard position.
The Harbour Breeze will see Tall Ferns Deena Franklin, None Martin, Tera Reed and Penina Davidson working alongside talented up and comers like Tayla Dalton and returning US College players like Ella Fotu and Matangiroa Flavell. Word from the team is that it’s unlikely Penina Davidson will be able to take the court as she recovers from the ankle injury she suffered at the FIBA 3X3 World Cup Qualifiers in Puerto Rico earlier this week.
The Waikato Wizards are always a fierce rival for any WBC team. They bring Tall Ferns Charlisse and Krystal Leger-Walker, Alyssa Hirawani, plus young talents Ella Bradley and Jayzelee Waihi. Natasha Lenden will captain the side and Tall Fern great Leanne Walker as coach.
The Taranaki Thunder will be the listed underdog this year, but with the likes of talented youngsters Isabelle Cook, Rachelle Fourie and captain Simone Cook, they have the flair to create upsets along the way.
Division 2 will be too close to call, with seven teams looking to build their programmes, particularly feeder teams into the Division One sides including Harbour Zephyr, South Canterbury Stealers, and defending champs McAlpines M10 MEGA North Canterbury Spirit. The opening game in Division 2 sees Wellington take on Rotorua at 2.15pm, Friday – Waikato Country are a late withdrawl from Division 2
The rosters for this weekend’s tournament can be found here: http://www.nz.basketball/Competitions/WBC/Draw-Info
Three games will be livestreamed on www.nz.basketball/tv and on the @BasketballNZ facebook page:
- Friday, 10th May – 7:45pm Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats V Taranaki Thunder
- Saturday, 11th May – 7:45pm Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats V Harbour Breeze
- Sunday, 12th May – 4pm Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats V Auckland Dream
Division One teams:
- Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats
- AM I FIT Otago Gold Rush
- Auckland Dream
- Harbour Breeze
- Taranaki Thunder
- Waikato Wizards
Division Two teams:
- Capital Swish
- Harbour Zephyr
- North Canterbury
- Northland Phoenix
- Rotorua Lady Geysers
- South Canterbury Stealers