The Aon New Zealand Under 17 National Basketball Championships tip-off tomorrow in Wellington and will feature some of the country’s top young talent.
Three of the Aon New Zealand Under 17 boys team are still young enough to play at this tournament, having only just stepped off the plane after the FIBA Under 17 World Cup in Argentina, which finished on Monday morning with the team placing 14th overall.
Ezrah Vaigafa will suit up for the Wellington. He will be well supported by Ezekiel Stallworth who was one of four players that attended the Basketball Without Borders Asia camp in late May. Wellington will have the home court advantage and will undoubtedly be supported courtside by family and friends.
Waitaha Red is the other team to boast Under 17 World Cup representatives. Mac Stodart and Samuel Jenkins, also Basketball Without Borders alumni, will be facing fatigue from travel and the pressures of international basketball at the highest age-group level.
Current title holders, Harbour Basketball, will be looking to go back-to-back. The Association is bringing three teams to the tournament including a B squad and an Under 16 team that will benefit from the experience next year.
There are a number of talented newcomers to this age group to keep an eye on, although still rookies in this age-group and more likely to be forces in 2019. Paora Winitana Junior has just transferred from the Hawke’s Bay to Harbour. The now Westlake Boy’s student was MVP last year at the Under 15s where he help lead the Hawke’s Bay team to a National title. His rival from that tournament, Josh Book, will be back for Tasman. These two traded shot for shot in 2017 Under 15 Grand Final, when the game went into overtime and showed both young men thrive under pressure.
For the Aon New Zealand Under 17 Girls’ team that will depart for the FIBA Under 17 World Cup in Minsk next Monday, only Jazzmyne Kailahi-Fulu will be on court at the Under 17 Nationals, suiting up for Harbour. She’ll be backed up by her younger sister Zaaliyah Kailahi-Fulu, who joins the age-group for the first time.
Another squad that traditionally makes the playoff rounds is the Waikato team. This year the Under 17 squad features Quaye Walker-Eketone and Jayze Lee Waihi, who both are fresh from the Waikato Wizards team were runners up in the Women’s Basketball Championships that finished last weekend. Interestingly, another player from that Wizards team, Alyssa Hirawani, is also part of the Under 17 Waikato squad, but as Assistant Coach.
Head Coach of the Tall Blacks, Paul Henare, will also attend the event to help Basketball New Zealand selectors and coaches identify talent for future high performance programmes.
A full list of squad members and representative teams can be found here: http://nz.basketball/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=5pSPlzd3v0k%3d&portalid=26
On the last two days of the Nationals, 12 games will be livestreamed at www.NZ.basketball/TV.
13 July Livestream
10:45am: Girls QF2
12:30pm: Boys QF1
2:15pm: Girls SF1
4:00pm: Girls SF2
5:45pm: Boys SF1
7:30pm: Boys SF2
14 July Livestream
Girls 5th/6th Playoff
9:45am: Boys 5th/6th Playoff
11:30am: Girls 3rd/4th Playoff
1:15pm: Boys 3rd/4th Playoff
4:00pm: Girls Grand Final
5:45pm: Boys Grand Final
For more go to www.nz.basketball and Basketball New Zealand’s social media channels: @BasketballNZ Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.