U23 National Championships tip off Wednesday

The 2021 New Zealand Under 23 National Championships tip-off on Wednesday 11 August at Pettigrew Arena, Napier with 15 men’s teams taking part.

The Women’s championship will not be contested as a large number of players are involved in the Sal’s NBL and D League Tournament starting on Thursday in Auckland.

When the championship was last held in 2019, Hutt Valley/Wellington were the victors.

This year both Hutt and Wellington will have their own teams with former Saint Finn McClure playing for Wellington before heading back to Milligan University in Tennessee. Hutt will be looking to Mikade Fono to give them scoring punch.

 A whole host of players that featured in the recently completed Sal’s NBL will be hoping to make their mark and feature in the men’s Grand Final on Saturday 13 August.

 Southland are the only South Island team with Tom Cowie and Connor Coll, having helped the Sharks to the NBL semi-finals, heading their campaign.

 Auckland Huskies were also NBL semi-finalists and the duo of Reuben Fitzgerald and Kiani Saxon, along with Scott Telfer (Mountainairs) and Jett Thompson (Bulls) will suit for North Harbour.

Mentioning the Bulls, Dylan Wilkie and Braydon Iuli will wear the gold and black of Franklin.

Also from the City of Sails Ryan Laumatia (a Nelson Giant in 2020) and Huskies squad member Connor Woodbridge will be key to Auckland’s chances.

Reef Churches was another player in the Huskies extended playing group and he has returned to Northland to suit up for the Taniwha.

 Tommy Fergusson and Matangirei Hipango enjoyed good minutes in the NBL for the Hawks and Jets respectively. Fergusson will bolster the Hawkes Bay ranks, Hipango likewise for Manawatu.

 Taranaki will have a quartet of players with Mountainairs experience. The high flying Carlin Davison will be joined by Baxter Fenwick, Oscar Robertson and Morgan Trott. In addition guard Nico Hill will showcase his talents before returning to college in the US.

 Waikato will welcome the return of Kainoa Lepou. The shooting guard returns after a two-year mission with the Church of the Latter-day Saints.

Games tip-off at 9am on Wednesday with Auckland meeting Southland and Waikato Country taking on Porirua in the opening round.


In short: