The Basketball New Zealand Seven Stars Invitational events for 2021 has unearthed two new number one ranked players in rising 3X3 sensations Esra McGoldrick and Pafe Momoisea.  The pair of 22 year olds grabbed their opportunities over a series of five tournaments in Christchurch last month.

With 3X3 basketball on the rise and the outcome of the qualification for the 2022 Commonwealth Games known by mid-November, the sport is going through a huge surge in interest.  Competition for selection on the national teams will continue to heat up.  One of the goals of Seven Stars Invitational events are to provide 3X3 opportunities and pathways for national players for the future.  There are set to be more Seven Stars events in 2022.

North Cantabrian Esra McGoldrick, 1.88m, has plenty of basketball experience despite her young age. She’s played for the Sky Sport Tall Ferns in 2019, with North Carolina State in the NCAA, and in the Sal’s NBL, along with representative and school teams in the five-aside format of the game. She suited up for the Auckland Dream this year in the NBL before it was recently cancelled due to COVID-19.

McGoldrick was able to pivot into the 3X3 game successfully. Her ability to mix a formidable outside shooting game and have strong body control and sealing for inside finishes makes her a double-threat in the fast pace of 3X3.  She is a force on the defensive end too, utilising her long arms to change shots and she racked up at least two blocks per game in Christchurch.

During the event, McGoldrick said she was enjoying the fast and furious 3X3 format.

“I am eager to keep evolving and developing my skills to become a more effective 3X3 player and someday play internationally.”

This year McGoldrick has amassed 5070 points including two Seven Stars events in Auckland with one held during the Tall Ferns National camp where she helped the Tall Ferns Rima team to victory.  These points rank her number one for women, but also 11th overall including NZ men. She propelled her Wolverines club team from Canterbury to two titles out of the five events in Christchurch.  Her teammates were all current St Andrew’s College students in Maddie Morrow, Lauren Whittaker and Karereatua Williams.

“The Seven Stars proved that we can compete and back ourselves against strong 3X3 teams like the Wildcats. With a team of high-schoolers I was stoked to come away with a few wins,” said McGoldrick.

McGoldrick has been named to play for the Taranaki Thunder in the Schick 3×3 Cup, which has been postponed until February.

Momoisea, 1.94m, is a slick guard who hails from Manurewa, south Auckland. He got his first taste of high level 3X3 at the NBL Schick Cup last November.  He was a member of the NZ Select Team that finished fourth and secured some upset wins along the way.

He is studying a Food Science Degree at Lincoln University in Canterbury, and spent the 2021 Sal’s NBL season with the Otago Nuggets.

Momoisea brings some key skills to the 3X3 court with an ability to create off the dribble, defend and offensive rebound.  He is a true X-factor player and comes up with what is needed for his team to be successful.

“I like the pace and space you have with only six people on the court. Quick turnarounds mean you can’t worry about the previous play and I feel like you have a lot more freedom to create offensively,” said Momoisea.

Momoisea played in all five Seven Stars events and currently has 8884 ranking points. He played with the Lincoln White in the first weekend of the Seven Stars pushing them to two podium finishes.  Then he was elevated to the NZ Select team where he helped the team take out one event title and another third-placed finish.  When there was not enough NZ Select players available over Labour Weekend, he slotted back into Lincoln White who won the event alongside students Jared Burnett, Ben Hall and Simon Lafaele.

“It is a big goal of mine to represent NZ at the Commonwealth Games. With 3X3 being an Olympic sport now, playing at the Olympics would be crazy.  But I would be grateful to have the opportunity to play for my country no matter the situation.

“Just being able to play basketball during these times while areas of the country are locked down has been a blessing.  There has also been a consistently good level of competition. With the NZ Select teams, NBL sides like the Rams, Nuggets and Giants, and also the local University and club teams that competed each week,” said Momoisea.

Momoisea was drafted by the Otago Nuggets for the NBL 3X3 Schick Cup.