Basketball New Zealand has named the Aon New Zealand Boys’ basketball team to compete in the FIBA Oceania U15 Championships in December this year, to be held in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
This comes after a selection camp held over Labour Weekend. Head Coach Morgan Maskell says that he and the staff are excited about the potential within the group.
“The talent on display at camp was very impressive, but perhaps more importantly, the character of all 25 players we had at the selection camp was outstanding. One of the things that was most pleasing about the group is the culture that has been created both on and off the court. On court the boys were incredibly competitive, which meant that is was really challenging to select the final group of 12 players and four reserves. Off the court the boys had a great amount of banter. The group has a really positive vibe about it, which is really pleasing.
“We believe the team is extremely versatile and are capable of playing a very modern style of basketball,” says Coach Maskell.
As with all Basketball New Zealand teams, the Kiwi culture and belief in ‘team before self’ is part of the environment, and Coach Maskell says fostering that ethos is part of the remit for management.
“It's a real privilege to have ‘New Zealand’ on your chest, and it’s important that all of us display the requisite amount of pride and mana that come with that privilege. This process is not just about preparing the players for a trip to Papua New Guinea, but also about producing future leaders whether that be on the court as future Tall Blacks and Breakers, or off the court as future leaders in our communities.”
Similar to the girls’ team selection, Maskell says it was tough to select just 12 from a widely talented group at the camp.
“There are players from our group that weren’t selected for the travelling team on this occasion, and other players waiting in the wings who will feel they deserved to be at the selection camp but weren’t this time round. Each and every player at the camp know that they can achieve great things in our sport if their goal is ‘mastery’, so whether a player has been selected for this particular trip or not, it is a continued display of hard work, grit and a growth mindset that will see players improve their skills significantly and continue to vie for future selections.”
The Australian team will again step into the FIBA Oceania event as favourites. Yet the Junior Tall Blacks did win the U18 Oceania event in 2016. That example proved the young Kiwi teams can match that level, and this Under 15 New Zealand team has the chance to make history by being the first U15 Kiwi team to do so.
“The FIBA Oceania Under 15 Championships will be a new and exciting experience for our group. Australia will be a very tough opponent as per usual, but the programmes in Guam and Samoa are on the rise and will also present a challenge to us at the tournament as well,” says Coach Maskell.
Aon New Zealand Under 15 Boys:
• Jett Thompson - North Harbour Basketball
• Reegan Trego - NZ
• Sataan Poutasi Tiare Tawera - Basketball Auckland
• Joshua Book - Nelson Basketball
• Zach Riley - North Harbour Basketball
• Ethan Skelton - Waitakere West Auckland Basketball Inc.
• Junior James De Young - Te Aroha Basketball
• Hunter Adam - Canterbury Basketball
• Akiva McBirney-Griffin - Waikato Basketball Council
• Benjamin Gold - Wellington Basketball
• Tafara Gapare - Wellington Basketball
• Levic Kerr - Basketball Auckland
• Max Abbot - Wellington Basketball
• Piripi Tapsell - Wellington Basketball
• Wairehu Waata - Basketball Hawke's Bay
• Oscar Hickey - NZ
• Morgan Maskell - Head Coach
• Darron Larsen - Assistant Coach
• Brent Matehaere - Assistant Coach
• Leanne Barrett - Manager