New Zealand Premier team named to take on Penina Davidson and the University of California

New Zealand Premier team named to take on Penina Davidson and the University of California
The New Zealand Premier team has been named to take on University of California, Berkley at North Shore Events Centre on Sunday 13 August.

The twelve players selected have all represented their provinces with distinction during the recently concluded Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC).

The team is headlined by the inclusion of current Tall Ferns Deena Franklin and Georgia Agnew. The Harbour Breeze pair are currently heading to India with the rest of the Tall Ferns squad to prepare for the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup that begins next weekend.

Not surprisingly the back to back championship winning Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats team provide a significant number of players. Forwards Darcy Rose, Connie Poletti and Esra McGoldrick are joined by guards Sapphire Wairau and Hayley Gray from the Canterbury club.

The Waikato Wizards pair of Charlisse Leger-Walker and Alyssa Hirawani will be aided in the backcourt by Sariah Penese (Capital Swish) and Nicole Ruske (Site Weld Otago Goldrush).

Exciting young Auckland Lady Rangers forward Sharne Pupuke-Robati rounds out the twelve.

The selectors have reunited a number of the 2016 Junior Tall Ferns. McGoldrick, Leger-Walker, Hirawani, Penese and Ruske all wore the black singlet last year.

Leger-Walker, although still only 15 years old, led the WBC regular season stats in both points (21.2pg) and rebounds (9.8pg). These numbers certainly helped earn her an invitation to the Tall Ferns Selection Camp in June.

Ruske (13.4ppg) and Penese (18.0) also featured prominently amongst the leading scorers in the WBC.

The rebounding responsibilities will largely fall on Franklin, Poletti, Rose and McGoldrick.

Jess Tuki (Taranaki Thunder), Donna Fermanis (Waikato Country Cannons) and Ashley Gayle (Canterbury Wildcats) were originally selected, but were forced to withdraw for personal reasons.

The team will be coached by New Zealand age group head coaches Lori McDaniel (NZ Under 17, WBC coach of the year) and Jody Cameron (NZ Under 18).

The tour is being organised by Gayle who has helped set up non-profit NZIBT as a vehicle for this and future tours by U.S. teams.

Cal Berkley Golden Bears, one of the top college teams in the USA, boast nine appearances at the NCAA tournament and play in the prestigious Pac 12 Conference.

One of Cal’s leading players is New Zealand Tall Fern forward Penina Davidson. Now in her fourth and final year at Cal the 21 year old has made 98 appearances for the Golden Bears.

Davidson, a former Rangitoto College standout, will of course be returning to play on a court she is very familiar with having schooled on the North Shore.

She played in the WBC for both Waitakere Lady Rangers and Harbour Breeze but this will be her first appearance back in New Zealand since 2015.

The game will tip off on 13 August at 4.00pm at North Shore Events Centre. Tickets at 

NZ Premier Team:

Georgia Agnew (Harbour Breeze)
Sharne Pupuke-Robati (Auckland Lady Rangers)
Deena Franklin (Harbour Breeze)
Hayley Gray (Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats)
Alyssa Hirawani (Waikato Wizards)
Charlisse Leger-Walker (Waikato Wizards)
Esra McGoldrick (Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats)
Sariah Penese (Capital Swish)
Connie Poletti (Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats)
Darcy Rose (Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats)
Nicole Ruske (Site Weld Otago Goldrush)
Sapphire Wairau (Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats)

Coaches: Lori McDaniel and Jody Cameron