The 2019 Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC) draw has been released today.
Showing the growth of the women’s game in New Zealand, the League has increased to 14 teams with the new additions of Capital Swish, South Canterbury Stealers, Wellington, plus the North Harbour second team called Harbour Zephyr. Six teams will compete in Division One and eight teams in Division Two.
The opening Tournament will host both Divisions, and be held in Christchurch from 10-12 May with the competition Finals Weekend being held at AUT Sport & Fitness Centre on Auckland’s North Shore from 4-6 July.
In a new initiative the Division One teams will play a double round robin with the majority of fixtures stand-alone home and away ties.
Division Two teams will play one round robin. Three of their seven games will be played within a conference either as a tournament structure or home and away. All games will be played between the two tournaments.
The Division One competition promises to be a high quality affair with all six teams boasting current or former Tall Ferns on their rosters.
Auckland Dream will have the Commonwealth Games bronze medal trio of Jordan Hunter, Kalani Purcell and Natalie Taylor as the spine of a deep talented squad whilst across the Harbour bridge Deena Franklin, another Gold Coast medallist, will suit up for Harbour Breeze. Two other 2019 Tall Ferns, Penina Davidson and Akiene-Tera Reed, will also be donning the maroon singlet.
The form of Charlisse Leger-Walker, the youngest ever Tall Fern, will be key to the fortunes of Waikato Wizards. She forms a dynamic back court pairing with Alyssa Hirawani, who also made her Tall Ferns debut in 2018.
Nicole Ruske made her full international debut alongside Hirawani at the William Jones Cup in Taiwan last year and she will once again suit up for defending champions AM I FIT Otago Gold Rush. Added to an already experienced Otago lineup is experienced guard Hayley Gray.
Gold Rush also welcome a new coach with Greg Brockbank taking over from the vastly experienced Todd Marshall.
Also in the south Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats see Head Coach Lori McDaniel returning. She was at the helm when the Wildcats won the 2016 and 2017 titles. In 2019 the Wildcats will have Tall Ferns centre Tessa Boagni leading its front court. Boagni returns for a full season with the Wildcats after a stint playing in Malaysia. In an interesting development the Wildcats have signed Russian forward Marita Davydova. The former U20 international spent two years at Florida International University ahead of professional stints in Spain, Ecuador and her home city Moscow.
The Taranaki Thunder are building from the ground up developing local young players from the Manawatu and Taranaki region under new coach Aarun Langton who steps up from the assistant coach role. The American college based pair of Nicole Cutler and Eva Langton will return to the Thunder ranks with former Tall Fern Jessica Tuki also set to make some appearances.
The WBC will livestream selected games with details to be released at a later date.
To download the draw click here
Opening Tournament: 10-12 May, Cowles Stadium, 210-220 Pages Rd, Wainoni in Christchurch.
Finals Weekend 4-6 July, AUT Recreation Centre, 90 Akoranga Dr, North Shore, Auckland
Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats
AM I FIT Otago Gold Rush
Power Chill Waikato Country Cannons
Rotorua Lady Geysers
South Canterbury Stealers
• Watch the 2019 Women’s Basketball Championship on the livestream though Facebook @BasketballNZ, hashtag #NZWBC.
See the draw, results and teams and more at www.nzwbc.basketball
• Want to play basketball? Contact your local association through www.thehuddle.co.nz