Dontae Russo-Nance and Lilly Taulelei are headed for the Jr. NBA Global Championship in Orlando, Florida in August.
This unique opportunity arises because the pair made such a positive impression at the recent inaugural Jr NBA Global Championship Asia Pacific Selection Camp in Jakarta.
The camp consisted of 34 boys and 34 girls from 10 countries including Australia, Philippines, Thailand South Korea and Malaysia.
Russo-Nance and Taulelei performed with distinction earning selection on the 10 strong Asia Pacific boy’s and girl’s teams to attend the Jr NBA Global Championship.
Basketball New Zealand (BBNZ) Under 14 National Director Dave Mackay, who accompanied the two Kiwis to Jakarta, was impressed with their performances at the two-day Camp.
“Dontae and Lilly did an outstanding job not only by showcasing their talent but by proving their ability to play through adversity with the heat, language barriers and different style of play.
“Both athletes have been involved in previous BBNZ U14 National Camps and Melbourne tours, and it’s fantastic to see the opportunities continue to open up for our players,” he added.
Natalie Andre, NBA Asia Basketball Operations Professional said the Kiwis were great young talents.
“Both players did an amazing job, it was a pleasure to have them on our camp.”
Wellington representative Taulelei who attends Queen Margaret College was delighted to be selected to represent Asia Pacific at the Jr NBA Global Championship.
“I feel really excited, it is a really good opportunity, I was really surprised, I’m just really happy,” said Taulelei.
She also had words of encouragement for the players not selected.
“Just keep working hard because now you know you can get here. So, just keep playing.”
Equally pleased was Rangitoto College combo-guard Russo-Nance who plays his representative basketball for Waitakere West Auckland.
“Obviously I’m very lucky because all the other kids were good, but unfortunately not everyone can be selected, so I am very lucky.
“It feels good because my parents have put in a lot of time throughout this year and it feels good to make them proud,” he added.
Mackay is optimistic that more opportunities for young New Zealand players will present themselves in the future.
“The hope is to continue building relationships with the fantastic Jr NBA Global Championship staff to provide more opportunities like this in the future,” Mackay said.