With the WBC opening weekend in Tauranga approaching fast, eight teams from around New Zealand will have been putting the final touches on their campaign preparations. The tier one teams have been working hard and will all come to Tauranga looking to get their campaigns off to a strong start.
In the lead up to the opening weekend, Basketball New Zealand will be putting together a series of articles previewing two teams each week. Each team has its own story but what is common across all of them is their hunger for success in 2018.
The Thunder had a strong 2017 season falling just one win short of a championship. This year they return with a young squad lead by Coach Angelo Hill and will be looking to go one better in 2018.
“We’re a really young team with an average age of under 20. Developing young players has been a big part of our mantra at Taranaki.”
Hill is a strong advocate for the women’s game and would like to see the league continue to grow and develop. For Hill and the Thunder the WBC plays a big role in their player development pathway.
“We want to give our young players an opportunity to play at this level in order to develop, for us it’s about making our players better and developing their game.”
The Thunder’s squad is made up of plenty of young talent that could bring an exciting brand of basketball to this year’s competition.
At just 15 years old, Raquel Sampson will be one to watch and should benefit from going up against some of New Zealand’s best. Hill is excited about what Sampson will bring to the team.
“Raquel’s coming along really well, it will be great for her to test herself against some high calibre opposition.”
The Thunder will also welcome back three players who have all spent time playing in the States. Nicole Cutler, Eva Langton and Courtney Keech will return for the Thunder and will bring a level of intensity that will help lift the team to new heights.
As far as goals in 2018, Hill and the Thunder are not shy of their intentions.
“We want to get back to that Championship game. Last year we had some injuries late in the campaign. This year, we’re excited about where we’re at.”
The Thunder play the Power Chill Waikato Country Cannons on day one of the opening weekend at 1.45pm at the Queen Elizabeth Youth Centre before matching up with the Tauranga City Coasters and Waikato Wizards on days two and three.
Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats
The full draw is available here.
Back to back Champions, the Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats will again be a handful in 2018.
Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats will welcome back one of its favourite daughters, Shea Crotty, for the 2018 Women’s Basketball Championship.
Crotty will return for her ninth season with the Wildcats after last year enjoying Big V championship success with Melbourne Sunbury Jets.
“It’s great to have Shea back, scoring threes and playing on-ball defence. We will also have Laken Wairau back playing alongside sister Sapphire in the guard’s rotation,” said Wildcats coach Lori McDaniel.
Laken returns after a spell at Indiana University.
The return of the pair will help offset the departure of American forward Ashley Gayle and versatile guard Courtney Hamblin.
“We are young but not high school young,” enthuses McDaniel who will also have the services of Darcy Rose and 2016 MVP Fran Edmondson to call on.
The Wildcats have of course won the last two WBC titles and whilst a three-peat is a major goal for Canterbury head coach Lori McDaniel it is not the only driver the team have this season.
“I think we have achieved success and done some good things and the people in the programme want to keep that going which is really positive. But we are focused on the new season and just because you won one year it doesn’t mean you are going to win again.”
McDaniel is also a big supporter of the new WBC structure.
“I think it gives everyone an opportunity to be involved regardless of skill, financial resources, and administrative capacity. This is positive because those factors can make a big difference as to whether you play or not.”
The Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats will play the Waikato Wizards on day one of the opening weekend at 5.45pm at the Queen Elizabeth Youth Centre before facing off against the Power Chill Waikato Country Cannons and Harbour Breeze on days two and three.
The full draw is available here.
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The full draw can be found here
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