The 2018 National Tertiary Basketball Championships begin on Friday 21 September with University of Canterbury Men and Lincoln University Women looking to defend the titles they won last year. The three-day tournament is being held at the AUT Sports Centre on Auckland’s North Shore.
Sibling rivalry will be to the fore over the three days with former Auckland Grammar standouts Samuel and Samson Aruwa representing different universities in the Men’s competition.
Samson will be wearing the University of Otago colours playing alongside former Junior Tall Black Josh Aitcheson with Samuel suiting up for University of Auckland.
Otago find themselves in Pool B where they will meet Massey University led by player-coach Aramis Dennan and Harbour Under 23 representative Liam Thornton.
Hosts AUT, coached by Tipene Friday, will be hoping shooting guard Connor Woodbridge can help propel his team to the final four.
2017 runners-up Lincoln University round out the pool and Head Coach James Lissaman is philosophical about his team’s chances.
“We will once again be able to call on the services of Ben Bowie, Josiah Williams and Ben Williams. We also have Patrick Neale from Tauranga on our roster but have lost the services of 2017 MVP James Cawthorn and had a couple of withdrawals due to injuries.
“University of Canterbury could well be the team to beat again,” added Lissaman.
Canterbury will head Pool A with Konrad Tota one to watch. The Canadian forward played professionally in Iceland, Spain and Germany before heading to Christchurch.
The University of Auckland will have Samuel Aruwa and Zac Easthope anchoring the backcourt to accompany the likes of Blessing Matambanadzo and Shay Graham.
University of Waikato and Victoria University of Wellington are the other Pool A contenders. Victoria coach Shawn Beck is optimistic about his team’s chances. “We have a solid group of players that I think will play well as a team.”
Tall Fern Deena Franklin, a Gold Coast Commonwealth Games bronze medalist, will player-coach the Massey University team that will be in Pool B of the Women’s Tournament alongside Victoria University and University of Canterbury.
Former New Zealand Juniors Nicole Stuart and Lily Nicol will lead a young Canterbury squad.
University of Auckland, coached by Karl Noyer, complete the Pool B lineup.
“We finished third in 2017 and are hoping to go a stage further this year. We have been fortunate to add Greissen Leslie and the experienced Kezia Kelly to a pretty settled group of players,” said the New Zealand U18 3x3 National Coach.
That group includes former New Zealand representative Breana Jones and Harbour Breeze guard Olivia Berry.
AUT also have Harbour Breeze representatives in their squad. Tabitha Jenkins and Shanee Kiriau will be joined by 2017 Tall Fern Georgia Agnew who also played for the Breeze that year.
AUT are one of three teams in Pool A alongside Lincoln University and University of Waikato.
Waikato Wizards forward Kelcy Ballantyne will be key to Waikato’s chances as will Connie Poletti for Lincoln.
Poletti was Tournament MVP in Lincoln’s championship charge last year and this year will be joined by Canterbury Wildcats teammate Ajiah Pepe.
The tournament begins at 8am on Friday 21 September and concludes on Sunday 23 September with the Women’s Final set down for 1.15am and the Men’s Final to be played at 3pm.
The National Tertiary Championships is held in partnership with University and Tertiary Sport New Zealand (UTSNZ). As part of this event, they will be presenting the UTSNZ Shield to the overall National Tertiary Champion for 2018.
Unveiled in 1923, the Shield has existed for 95 years. It is presented to the university with the overall success across a number of sports. University of Otago have won the Shield 35 times, the most of any university. The University of Auckland has won it 15 times, the University of Canterbury has 14 titles, and Victoria University of Wellington has ten. The University of Waikato and Massey University have secured bragging rights a few times (three and two respectively) and AUT has won it once over a near century of Shield competition.
The history of inter-campus sport in New Zealand originates back to the year 1900 when Canterbury College and Otago University participated in a tennis match. A proposal was put forward to organise the first formal inter-university sports tournament which then became a reality in 1902. Canterbury hosted the first Easter inter-university tournament in which Canterbury, Auckland, Otago and Victoria competed in athletics, tennis and debating. Over the years further sports were added to the competition. Boxing and shooting were added in 1921, basketball in 1927, swimming in 1930 and rowing in 1932.
FINALS DAY, 23 September:
Basketball Championship prize giving
Present Shield to the 2018 Overall National Tertiary Champion