Article by Peter White courtesy of thesun.co.nz
Tauranga basketballer Hineaupounamu (Missy) Nuku played a starring role for New Zealand at the Oceania Championships held in Papua New Guinea.
The 15-year-old point guard was named in the FIBA U15 Oceania Championship's All Star Five alongside three of Australia’s best and a player from Samoa.
“I was surprised but really happy. Making the All Stars team gave me a boost. I still want to keep playing and I want to push to be in that top five next year hopefully,” says Missy.
Playing in temperatures of 38 degrees in the capital Port Moresby, Missy stood out with the accuracy of her ball distribution and shooting percentage. She helped guide the New Zealand team through pool play and all the way to the final where the Australians were too strong.
Another Tauranga City Basketball rep Vitolia Tuilave, 14, was also part of the successful New Zealand team.
It was the first time for the pair representing New Zealand overseas and with no air conditioning inside the gym, conditions were difficult.
“It was great representing New Zealand somewhere else and playing the sport that I love with other good players,” says Missy.
“Before we started playing we had training in that gym and we got used to it but it was really tough in the first two trainings.”
Missy says “ankle breaking” is what she loves most about being a point guard.
“I love it. It is when you do these flash moves and the person who is marking you falls over,” says Missy with a big grin.
The FIBA U15 Oceania Championship served as the first step in the qualification process to the 2020 FIBA U17 World Cup.
Australia and New Zealand are the qualified teams to the FIBA U16 Championship in India next year, with the top four teams from that tournament going onto the worlds.
Missy would love to travel to India to contest the 2020 FIBA U17 World Cup.
“I am going to try my best to make the team again. Hopefully I do. I have also thought about 2020. It is a goal I want to achieve.
"Coaches have given me feedback about fitness and stuff and said training with the boys will help with fitness and speed.
“They said to keep shooting, shooting, shooting.”