Excellence, outstanding achievements and true dedication to New Zealand basketball was celebrated at the Basketball New Zealand Awards this evening, held at a sold-out event in Wellington.
There were 19 awards presented this evening, with Tall Blacks assistant coach and FIBA Hall of Famer Pero Cameron accorded the highest honour receiving the Basketball New Zealand Legend Award.
Player awards went to Tall Fern Stella Beck who won Female Player of the Year and Tall Black Reuben Te Rangi who won Male Player of the Year. Charlisse Leger-Walker retained the McLoughlin Trophy, winning the Female Junior Player of the Year for a third time, whilst mother Leanne Walker capped a good night for the family winning the Carolyn Grey Award presented to the Female Coach of the Year. Max Darling won the Male Junior Player of the Year and Paul Henare the Murray McMahon Award as Male Coach of the Year.
Basketball New Zealand Chief Executive Iain Potter said the awards capped off what was a fruitful year for basketball in New Zealand.
“The annual Basketball New Zealand Awards are now a feature on the yearly calendar, celebrating the milestones and contributions from both the past and present basketball community.
“2018 was a huge year for basketball in New Zealand and while the night belongs to the deserving awards recipients, it would be wrong not to acknowledge the massive amount of work that was done by those in the basketball community to ensure our game grew the way it has this past year.
“Congratulations to all our award winners, you all thoroughly deserve to be recognised for your achievements. You have made an important contribution to the sport of basketball in New Zealand.”
The Basketball New Zealand Award winners acknowledged for the 2018 year are:
• CEDRIC CUDBY VOLUNTEER AWARD – Faith Harrison (Canterbury)
• IAN GOODWIN SERVICES TO OFFICIATING – Gavin Zimmerman (Canterbury)
• SERVICES TO COACHING – Phil Burns (Canterbury)
• CAROLYN GREY FEMALE COACH OF THE YEAR– Leanne Walker (Waikato)
• KEITH MAIR MALE COACH OF THE YEAR – Matt Lacey (Harbour)
• THE McLOUGHLIN TROPHY - FEMALE JUNIOR PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Charlisse Leger-Walker (Waikato)
• THE AMBASSADORS TROPHY – MALE JUNIOR PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Max Darling (Canterbury)
• LONG SERVICE AWARD – Jeff Olsen (Harbour)
• MALE PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Reuben Te Rangi
• MVP OF THE YEAR – Reuben Te Rangi
• FEMALE PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD – Stella Beck
• MURRAY McMAHON AWARD – Paul Henare
• THE ZENA GAY MEMORIAL AWARD – Sue Pene
• SIR LANCE CROSS AWARD – Bob Bishop
• HALL OF FAME (Team) – 1958 NZ Team (Women).
• HALL OF FAME (Player) – Donna Wilkins (nee Loffhagen)
• HALL OF FAME (Player) – Penny Simmons
• HALL OF FAME (Player) – Heather Stenhouse
• BASKETBALL NEW ZEALAND LEGEND AWARD – Pero Cameron
CEDRIC CUDBY VOLUNTEER AWARD
Faith Harrison (Canterbury)
Canterbury Basketball Association’s Faith Harrison has worked tirelessly in the basketball community for over 30 years. She has been involved as an administrator in various roles at school, club, representative and association levels.
The recipient has been hugely successful in positively impacting the lives of thousands of young men and women through a variety of avenues including:
Her various roles have included founder and President of Wharenui Gators Basketball Club,
Co-ordinator of the Wharenui Primary School Competition, all things Middleton Grange School Basketball and many things Canterbury Rams, including administration and game-night Co-ordinator. She has also held numerous roles on the management committees of the Canterbury Basketball Association and School Sport Canterbury.
IAN GOODWIN SERVICES TO OFFICIATING AWARD
Gavin Zimmerman (Canterbury)
Gavin Zimmerman has been involved in basketball officiating for almost 30 years since beginning his refereeing career in New Plymouth.
He was appointed to the Women’s National League Panel in 1994 and the Men’s NBL Panel two years later. He has since gone on to referee 290 New Zealand NBL games placing him seventh on the all-time list of NBL refereeing appearances.
He moved to Christchurch in 1999 and won his first Canterbury Basketball Official of the Year Award in 2001.
He refereed his first international game, New Zealand v Qatar in Dunedin, in 2005 and gained his IWBF Badge (International Wheelchair Basketball Federation) the following year.
Zimmerman passed his FIBA badge in 2009 and since then has refereed at FIBA Tournaments in Australia, Korea, Bosnia Herzegovina and Thailand as well as in New Zealand. In 2015 he refereed the Tall Ferns v Australia FIBA Olympic Qualifying game and earlier in the same year the Tall Ferns v Japan series.
SERVICES TO COACHING AWARD
Phil Burns (Canterbury)
Phil Burns became immersed in basketball at the highly successful Mairehau High School before going on to play club basketball for University, Teachers College and Rangiora. This year’s recipient began coaching, “seriously” (as he put it) in 1978 when taking the reins of the Rangiora Women’s Senior Team and has coached almost continuously for the past four decades.
During the 1980s and early ‘90s, the recipient was club coach for North Canterbury Men and Women teams in the Canterbury Premier Grades.
He coached numerous representative age group teams, both male and female, and also coached the North Canterbury Men to the South Island Championship and National 2nd Division finals.
From 1996-1999 he was an assistant coach of the Canterbury Rams and in 1997 took Rangiora High School boys to the National Secondary Schools Final. In 1997 he also began coaching New Zealand teams, assisting Jeff Cleaver, as the NZ U20 Men won the Oceania series in New Caledonia.
He subsequently coached various NZ Men’s Teams at U19, U20, and U21 levels and in 2001 coached NZ Junior Men at the Youth Olympics in Sydney. He was also the Tall Ferns assistant coach in 2001 and 2002.
Burns took Christchurch Girls’ High School to the National Secondary Schools Championships in 2000 and 2001 and also won back to back National titles with the Canterbury Wildcats in 2004 and 2005.
He has twice received the Canterbury Basketball Coach of the Year Award and also been presented with the Sport Canterbury Winter Sports Coach of the Year Award.
CAROLYN GREY FEMALE COACH OF THE YEAR AWARD
Leanne Walker (Waikato)
Leanne Walker was a two-time Olympian as a player but more recently has established herself as one of New Zealand’s leading female coaches. She has a wealth of experience and professionalism from her playing days and uses it to help grow and develop young athletes both nationally and in the Waikato region.
Her coaching accolades to date include;
Head Coach of St Peter’s School, Cambridge – finalists at the last 4 Schick Secondary Schools Girl’s National Finals, winning three titles and finishing runners-up once.
Head Coach of Waikato Wizards WBC team for the past three seasons – runners-up in 2018
Head Coach of NZ Women’s team that won gold at the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup in 2018
Assistant Coach of NZ U18 Women’s team that attended the FIBA U18 Asian Championship in India last year.
Her citation reads:
“Her passion and commitment to the sport and the athletes is undeniable. She never looks for recognition and always remains humble despite her amazing achievements and contribution to basketball.
“She is a remarkable woman who always looks to better those around her and she is a deserved recipient of this award.”
KEITH MAIR MALE COACH OF THE YEAR
Matt Lacey (Harbour)
Matt Lacey began his coaching career as a 20 –year- old, a year after representing the Junior Tall Blacks as a player alongside Reuben Te Rangi, Derone Raukawa and Tom Vodanovich.
In his first year of coaching at Rosmini College, he guided the Junior Premier team to wins in the Zone 1 and 2 Junior Premierships.
This success was repeated in 2016 and in the same year he was an assistant coach of the Harbour U15 Girls team that claimed the National title in Wellington.
At 23 he became the youngest head coach to capture the prestigious Schick Secondary Schools AA National Championship when guiding Rosmini College to the title in 2017. He repeated the feat in 2018 as Rosmini won back-to-back championships.
He was also Head Coach of the Harbour U19 team in 2018 that attended tournaments in the USA as well as the Aon U19 National Championships where the team finished third.
The recipient continues to coach at Rosmini College, Harbour Basketball and is also involved in the New Zealand High-Performance programme as an assistant coach with the New Zealand U17 Men’s team that will attend the FIBA U17 Oceania Tournament in New Caledonia in August.
LANCE McLOUGHLIN TROPHY – FEMALE JUNIOR PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Charlisse Leger-Walker (Waikato)
Charlisse Leger-Walker receives the McLoughlin Trophy for a remarkable third year in a row.
2018 was another outstanding year for Charlisse, as she became the youngest ever Tall Fern when helping New Zealand claim a bronze medal at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Charlisse also represented New Zealand at two FIBA pinnacle age-group events last year. She was part of the New Zealand U18 team at the FIBA Asian Championships in India and also led the NZ team at the U17 FIBA World Cup in Belarus – New Zealand’s first ever appearance at a Women’s FIBA Age-Group World Cup. She was the fourth highest individual scorer at the World Cup, averaging 15 points per game.
Charlisse was also dominant in the domestic season, leading Waikato to two national championships at the U19 and U23 tournaments and claiming MVP at both.
She collected her third MVP award at the Schick Secondary Schools National Championship, where she led St Peter’s School Cambridge to its third title in four years.
Finally, she was named to the Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC) All-Star Five and also named WBC Junior Player of the Year in 2018.
THE AMBASSADORS TROPHY – MALE JUNIOR PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Max Darling (Canterbury)
Max Darling was a member of the Junior Tall Blacks that finished second at the 2018 FIBA U18 Asia Championship in Bangkok. That second place qualified NZ for the FIBA U19 World Cup in Greece later this year. Max scored 20 points in the final against Australia and averaged 13 points and 6 rebounds during the tournament.
He was named MVP at the U19 National Championship, where he led the Waitaha Canterbury team to the national title. Max finished with 27 points and 12 rebounds in the grand-final victory over Manawatu.
Max was a key member of the 2018 Canterbury Rams team and was rewarded for his efforts by being named the Sal’s NBL 2018 Rookie of the Year after averaging 9.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
Those performances were noted by Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare and Max was invited to the Tall Blacks Selection Camp that followed the Sal’s NBL season.
He earned his first professional contract in 2018, signing to play for Osijek in Croatia where he has been playing since last October.
LONG SERVICE AWARD
Jeff Olsen (Harbour)
Jeff Olson has given a remarkable 50 years’ service to Harbour Basketball.
He was one of the founding members of Harbour Basketball upon its incorporation in 1972, although his involvement on the board controlling North Shore basketball dates back to 1967.
Jeff began playing basketball at Westlake Boys in the ‘60s and went on to represent Harbour before turning his attention to coaching.
A past president of the NZ basketball Coaches Association he guided the Harbour U20 Men’s team to the national title in 1974 – Harbour’s first National Championship.
He has served as president, secretary and treasurer during his extensive time on the Harbour Board and helped draft the new constitution in 1998.
Jeff also served on the BBNZ board (1978-1991) and the North Shore Events Centre board (1992-2018).
He is a Life Member of Harbour Basketball and in 1993 he was recognised by North Harbour Sport for his services to Harbour basketball. In 1999 he received the Sir Lance Cross Award for services to basketball and in 2014 he became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Public Service and Sport.
“His wealth of knowledge and dedication to Harbour Basketball has been invaluable and he is a worthy recipient of this award,” said Harbour Basketball CEO John Hunt.
MALE PLAYER OF THE YEAR and MVP FOR 2018
Reuben Te Rangi
Te Rangi is a key member of the Tall Blacks and played in all but one of the twelve qualifying games that saw New Zealand qualify for the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China later this year.
He was also a key member of the bronze medal winning team at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
In 2018 he led the Southland Sharks to the Sal’s National Basketball League title and was named Finals MVP after scoring 26 points in the pulsating 98-96 Grand Final win against the Wellington Saints.
The 2018/19 Australian NBL season proved to be a breakthrough season for Reuben. He was recognised as the Australian NBL’s Most Improved Player and Best Sixth Man averaging 10.4 points and 3.2 rebounds per game for the Brisbane Bullets. He displayed great versatility playing a variety of roles at forward or guard as the Bullets ended an 11-year play-offs drought.
FEMALE PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD
Stella Beck started all 31 games for NCAA Division I university St Mary’s College, California in her senior year and was their leading scorer amassing 491 points. She was also third on the team in rebounding (193) and second in assists (99).
In her four-year career with the Gaels, she posted 1,045 points in 123 games – an appearance record that places Beck ninth on St Mary’s Women’s Basketball all-time list.
She finished her distinguished career at Saint Mary’s by being named on the West Coast Conference First Team for the second consecutive year. A true student-athlete, Stella was named to the West Coast Conference All-Academic Team for a third straight year.
In October Stella began her professional career playing for the Townsville Fire, alongside fellow Tall Fern Micaela Cocks, in the Australian WNBL.
Stella was a member of the Tall Ferns team that won the William Jones Cup last July, averaging 17.8 ppg. This was highlighted in a 24 point performance in the final against Japan.
MURRAY McMAHON AWARD
The Murray McMahon Award recognises a notable contribution to men’s basketball in New Zealand.
Paul Henare has made an immense contribution to basketball in New Zealand since his early days growing up in the Hawke’s Bay.
He represented New Zealand through various age-group teams before earning his first Tall Blacks call up in 1999. He went on to make 129 appearances in the black singlet.
A highlight from his Tall Black career would be finishing fourth at the 2002 FIBA World Cup in Indianapolis. Paul was also a double Olympian with appearances in Sydney (2000) and Athens (2004).
He played at the domestic level for the Hawks and Auckland Stars, winning NBL championships in 1999 and 2000. He won the Dave Taylor Trophy, given to the season’s assists champion, on five occasions.
Paul was a member of the inaugural Breakers team in 2003 and bowed out in 2011 with an ANBL championship, 250 appearances for the club and a singlet retirement.
He began his coaching career back in Hawke’s Bay in 2011 and has also held the Head Coach position with Southland Sharks, New Zealand Breakers and currently the Wellington Saints.
He was appointed Tall Blacks Head Coach in 2015 and has successfully qualified the team for the upcoming FIBA World Cup in China. The last Tall Blacks game in February against Jordan was his 50th game at the helm.
THE ZENA GAY MEMORIAL AWARD
Sue Pene (Rotorua)
This award recognises a notable contribution to women’s basketball in New Zealand.
Sue Pene fell in love with basketball as a 16-year-old and has given a lifetime of service to the game ever since.
She played school basketball in Pukekohe and reps for Counties Manukau. Attending teachers training college in Auckland, she went on to play for North Shore before moving to Wellington and playing more representative basketball in the capital.
On securing a teaching appointment in Whanganui, the recipient began her coaching career and also became involved in the administrative side of the game.
In 1992 she moved to Rotorua with her husband Darrell and the pair have been the cornerstone of Rotorua basketball ever since.
Over the past 27 years, the recipient has coached countless teams and organised a host of tournaments and competitions, whilst also coaching and administering the Rotorua WBC team since its inception.
The recipient’s involvement is not limited to Rotorua teams and events. For the last five years the Rotorua Basketball Association has hosted the National Maori Basketball Championship – this year there were 192 teams involved.
She also oversees the selection and organisation of players that attend the annual Australian Country Cup in Albury-Wodonga each January on the Koru Tour.
Sue has filled the role of Player Development Officer for BBNZ for a number of years, organising national camps and data-basing players whilst also coaching the NZ U16 Girls Team.
The recipient has taken great delight in seeing all five daughters succeed in the game, have each played for the Rotorua Lady Geysers in the WBC.
Many young players from Rotorua have been assisted in gaining scholarships to the States, including daughter Pareunuora, who has just completed her freshman year at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
The recipient takes the most satisfaction from “just seeing kids getting involved and enjoying the game”.
SIR LANCE CROSS AWARD
This award recognises exceptional service to basketball.
Bob Bishop has achieved excellence across many levels of the sport as a player, coach and administrator.
As a basketball coach of domestic and international teams over a 26-year span, Bob developed three qualities that aided his coaching:
He knew and understood how players learned from his teaching background and as a qualified sports scientist (Masters in Biomechanics from Iowa University) developed an understanding of mental and physical conditioning.
Bob’s teams were always fundamentally sound and well prepared. He won four out of a possible five National Championships in his time coaching for Canterbury.
He also coached the University of Canterbury Men’s team from 1979-1988 and then the Victoria University Men’s team from 1990-1996.
From there he went on to coach the New Zealand team at the 1986 FIBA Men’s World Cup in Spain, holding the head coach role from 1985-1987 and again 1992 and 1993.
He was an assistant coach for three years prior to the top job – the 1983 team won the Kirin Tournament in Japan and the same year a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Basketball Tournament.
Bob was also the President of the National Association of Coaches during the early ‘80s. He wrote and produced the Level 1 & 2 Basketball Coach Accreditation Courses which were utilised to train scores of coaches between 1980-2012.
In 1996, with increased professional responsibilities and travel commitments, he stood down from team coaching.
However eight or nine years ago he answered a call from Porirua High School and was thrilled to go back and work with young players again. The next year he assisted one of his former NZ players, Frank Mulvihill, in coaching the Porirua U15 Boys and for the last seven years has mentored Porirua representative coaches.
Bob takes great satisfaction from the feedback he has received from former players that the lessons and experiences they gained on the basketball court not only made them “winners” in games but also made a significant difference to their successes in life.
HALL OF FAME AND THE BASKETBALL LEGEND AWARDS
The Hall of Fame and Basketball Legend Awards are considered the top accolades in New Zealand basketball. The Basketball Legend recipient is always selected from the list of previous Hall of Fame recipients.
HALL OF FAME – PLAYER
Donna Wilkins (nee Loffhagen)
Donna Wilkins is a two-time Olympian playing (alongside Leanne Walker) for the Tall Ferns at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics. She was the leading rebounder at the ’04 Games, averaging 10.6 boards per game.
Two years later she was a member of the New Zealand team that won silver at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
Donna began her career in Canterbury playing for the Wildcats in 1993 and was selected for the NZ U20s the next year. She then went on to play for Southland and Otago before heading across the Tasman to play in the Australian Women’s National Basketball League for the Canberra Capitals, winning a championship in the 2006/7 season.
The following year she played for the Christchurch Sirens during its one and only season in the WNBL.
A measure of Donna’s ability was that she was invited to trial for WNBA side the Connecticut Suns in 2006. In her words “I played in all the trial games but was cut on the last day before the season commenced”. Basketball can be a cruel game!
Donna’s illustrious 11-year career with the New Zealand team concluded after the previously mentioned 2006 Commonwealth Games.
Kim Lucas was the Tall Ferns manager for most of Donna’s career and she had this to say about our Hall of Famer.
“Her tough never-say-die spirit often lifted her teammates to overcome more highly ranked teams and she never gave up even when we were being beaten by the best in the world. That was just another challenge to Donna, not something to be daunted by. At the 2004 Olympics she out rebounded Lauren Jackson widely considered to be the best female player in the world at the time. Donna was pure strength of spirit and tough as nails.
“Coaches loved her because she is the kind of player who would run through a brick wall for you!
“The first time in camp with the National Team as a young 17-year-old you would think she’d be nervous about being confronted by the established team members, but not Donna. She played as tough as anyone.
“In one of her first games for NZ against Australia in Terrigal, Australia she was undeterred by having to play a game against the World Silver Medallists at the time. She gave them no extra respect.
She had two arms and two legs just like them and she was going to give them a run for their money – and she did!
“Nowadays she brings up three children and amuses herself by running the Kepler Challenge, just the 60 kilometres over a mountain range that can take 10 hours or more to complete in sometimes dire conditions. Donna will know best how many of those she has completed but there is no challenge she will not rise to and succeed. The run is the ultimate test of strength and endurance and sheer guts. The same traits she bought to the New Zealand Tall Ferns.”
HALL OF FAME – Player
Penny Simmons was a player of great natural ability who began playing at school in Nelson.
She was first seen playing at the NZ Women’s Indoor Basketball Association Tournament in Christchurch where she was selected for the South Island Team. She would go on to play for the South Island for three years and the North Island for nine years.
Penny’s inspiring play helped the representative teams she played for capture five national titles – one each with Nelson and Wellington, three with Hutt Valley but unfortunately none during her three years with Auckland.
Her international career began in 1960 and on her first overseas tour to Australia in 1964 she was the second highest scorer on the team. Her leadership qualities saw her named captain the 1967 New Zealand team on its tour of Australia.
Penny’s play was exemplary, she had a wide repertoire of shots and was known for her “buzzer-beating” ability. In addition to being an adroit defender, she was well known for her skill around the basket, or as we call it these days “in the paint”.
Penny’s achievements were even more remarkable given the tragic death of her first husband, New Zealand player Doug Harford, that happened at the peak of her playing career.
Penny was one of those players remembered with awe. She was a role model to many younger players, some that also went on to play for New Zealand.
We lost Penny at a young 70 years of age, thus a posthumous award as a New Zealand Basketball Hall of Famer would befit a player of Penny’s stature in the game.
HALL OF FAME – Player
Heather Stenhouse began her Otago representative career at a very auspicious time – the Silver Jubilee of the Otago Women’s Indoor Basketball Association. Perhaps this was an omen of what was in front of her; a marvellous 11 years of NZ basketball representation and success.
She began her Otago rep career as a 17-year-old and would go on to win five national titles for the province, making the Tournament Team at the national championships on six occasions. She also represented the South Island team for 11 years.
Heather’s very first tour with the New Zealand team was to the 1967 State Champs where she began her stellar tenure as an elite international player.
By 1974 coach John Paul revealed just how valuable a player Heather had become.
“No report could adequately cover the tremendous contribution she made on the 1974 tour, it was quite remarkable. I would have no hesitation in saying that she would be the best backcourt player in Australasia.
“She scored 131 points in 9 games at 14.5ppg. That was almost a third of the total points scored by the team.
“She finished second top scorer from all teams at the Australian State Champs and was the only guard to make the All-Star Team on each day of the tournament.
“A lot was asked of her both as a playmaker and leader, roles she performed as well as I could have hoped for and through the early games she definitely carried the team.”
Heather was a consistently high scorer, whether the competition was the annual North versus South Island game or against any of the visiting international touring teams.
It was during her long term tenure with Otago that her ability as a leader developed. Otago had a fantastic run of success, achieving a three-peat at the national championships in the late ‘60s.
Building on this leadership with Otago, Heather was selected as captain of New Zealand for three tours to Australia between 1971 and 1977 plus the 1973 internal tour.
Heather could have been an asset to any US college team, however that pathway wasn’t available to our pioneer players at the time.
Heather Stenhouse’s consistent superb play, length of time playing representative basketball and leadership qualities on New Zealand touring teams made her an outstanding player and a worthy recipient of New Zealand Basketball Hall of Fame status.
HALL OF FAME – Team
1958 NZ Team (Women)
This was a very special team as they are the only New Zealand national team, men’s or women’s, to have beaten Australia 3-0 in a series - the first women’s series to be played under FIBA international rules.
The powerful Australian team, captained by future Hall of Famer Lorraine Eilers, had competed at the 1957 World Championships in Brazil, so to beat them convincingly the following year was a remarkable performance.
The first test was won 50-40, the second 27-24 and the third 43-13.
The leading New Zealand players in the series were Alma Coulson, Anita Hannen, Irone Brough, Beverley Green and a name many of you will be familiar with, Lois Muir. The youngest member of the team was 20-year-old Maureen McDermott-Watts who top-scored on the tour averaging 10.3 ppg – remembering the 3-point line wouldn’t be introduced to international basketball for another 26 years!
Five of the ’58 team would go on to play Australia in another three-game series in 1960. Australia won the opener 45-28, but New Zealand bounced back to win the second test 36-30 before going down in the decider 45-32.
This ‘special’ team achieved something unique in New Zealand international basketball history and are worthy recipients of Hall of Fame status.
BASKETBALL NEW ZEALAND LEGEND AWARD
This award is presented to someone who has previously been inducted into the Hall of Fame and has achieved ‘legend’ status.
Pero Cameron will go down as one of New Zealand’s most celebrated players after leaving his mark on the international stage as well as on home soil.
The list of achievements is a long one but there are some historic moments that we will all remember. Pero captained the Tall Blacks to an incredible 4th place finish at the 2002 FIBA World Cup, New Zealand’s highest ever finish at this event. At the conclusion of the tournament, he was named in the All-Star 5 alongside NBA stars Dirk Nowitzki and Manu Ginobili. He went on to represent New Zealand at two more World Cups in 2006 and 2010.
Pero is a two-time Olympian having played for the Tall Blacks at the 2000 Sydney Games and 2004 Athens Games. Pero also led the Tall Blacks to their highest finish at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, claiming silver.
Back home in the domestic NBL league, he burst onto the scene in 1992 and was named Rookie of the Year. He would then go on to dominate the league for the next 15 years, winning nine NZNBL titles and five MVPs during his spells with Waikato and Auckland.
He also spent time overseas playing in Turkey, Iran, Australia and the UK, where he won a British League title with the Chester Jets.
Pero has transitioned into coaching and is now a member of the Tall Blacks staff and Head Coach of the New Zealand U17 Girls Team. It is an exciting time for basketball in this country and Pero’s involvement with our current stars will ensure the game’s future is in good hands.
In 2011 he was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Six years later he was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame. The only New Zealander to have ever received this accolade.