It is rather unusual to find a pair of sisters in contention for a place on an international sporting team but the Tall Ferns selection camp has a rather unique situation whereby three sisters, Natalie Taylor (nee Purcell), Hailey Purcell and Kalani Purcell, are vying for selection.
The prospective Tall Ferns players have gathered in Auckland to trial for places on the roster to compete in the FIBA Oceania Championship Series against Australia in August, with the winner earning a place at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
The buildup for the team is considerable, including the William Jones Cup in Chinese Taipei and the Christchurch Casino International Series against Japan in Christchurch and Ashburton in early August.
Older sister Natalie is an established Tall Fern having competed at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing after debuting for the Ferns in 2007. She is currently playing for top of the table Gladstone Power in the Queensland state league.
Youngest sister Kalani debuted in 2013 against Australia and since then the 20 year old has enjoyed an outstanding two years stint at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas where she became the most decorated player in the Blue Dragons Women’s basketball programme.
Kalani heads for Brigham Young University in August holding an incredible eight career records from Hutchinson including most points, 1,176 and most rebounds 855.
Hailey also spent time at Hutchinson Community College before attending the University of Tennessee at Martin followed by twelve months at Alderson Broaddhus College, West Virginia. The 27 year old also spent some time playing in the UK.
“That was cool, it was good experience and I had an awesome time playing for the Sheffield Hatters – we won the competition!”
For Hailey it is exciting to be at her first Tall Ferns camp.
“I’ve always been aiming to make the Tall Ferns squad, I have always dreamed of playing with my sisters on the national team.”
Hailey is also a realist with perhaps only a couple of forward’s spots up for grabs.
“We are all going for the same position so I have to show my strengths. I have to show something that the coaches will want to have as part of the team”
The sisters teamed up in the 2013 New Zealand Women’s Basketball League when they played for the Auckland Counties Manukau Lady Hawks.
It would be something unique and special to do the same on the international stage.
The twenty-three strong trial squad will be trimmed to 14 for the upcoming international programme.