Taine Murray (North Harbour/Rosmini College), Ezrah Vaigafa (ex Wellington and Rongotai College representative but now based in Melbourne) and Finn Lally (Waikato/St John’s College) were recently named to the Aon New Zealand team to contest the FIBA U17 Oceania Championship in New Caledonia later in the year.
The trio of talented players have just returned from the prestigious Nike All Asia Basketball Camp in Shenzen, China. The annual camp, which hosts some of the most talented young players in the Asia/Oceania region, is five days of intense training and education.
“We had two training sessions a day lasting about three and a half hours. We also had strength and conditioning and in between those we had lots of off court activities with NBA players and coaches who were there,” said Murray.
Coaches present at the camp included David Adkins (Washington Wizards) and Mike Procopio the Director of Player Development for the Dallas Mavericks. NBA players in attendance included Kyle Kuzma (Los Angeles Lakers) and Josh Akoge (Minnesota Timberwolves).
“It was awesome to play against players from outside of New Zealand and experience different styles of play. Definitely the quickness the guards from the Asian countries bring is really noticeable and also you learn a lot playing against bigger, older players as some are already a year out of school,” Murray added.
60 players attended the 2019 event with Murray and Vaigafa impressing enough to be selected for the All-Star game that featured the top 20 players.
Murray scored 26 points in the All-Star game and was subsequently named All-Star Game MVP of the game and also named in the overall All-Star 5 for the Camp.
“It was pretty cool to play well in that game in front of so many players and coaches, it was just great,” said Murray modestly.
It’s been a particularly busy time for Murray having to board a flight from Auckland to Shenzen just 36 hours after helping Harbour win the U19 National Championship in Dunedin.
The 17 year-old swingman is becoming accustomed to international basketball. In April he played a pivotal role in helping Rosmini finish a highly creditable sixth at the ISF Basketball World Schools Championship in Greece.
In July he will re-join his Harbour U19 teammates as they travel to the USA to participate in tournaments in Phoenix and Dallas.
He will return home for a few weeks before linking up again with Lally and Vaigafa for the trip to the Oceania Champs in August.
To cap off an exceptional week Murray was named on Paul Henare’s Tall Blacks long list of players preparing for the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.
“It’s topped off an amazing week, it’s been awesome to receive such cool messages from people in my life that mean a lot to me . It’s really amazing to get this recognition.”
“It was satisfying at the Camp to know that I can compete with players outside of New Zealand and it makes me want to work hard and get more.”
You feel that it won’t be a long wait for Taine “to get more” as he puts it.