This weekend will see the first of four regional trials for Basketball New Zealand’s (BBNZ) Age Group National Teams in 2023, as young ballers from around Aotearoa face off against their peers in front of national team coaching staff.
The first U16 and U17 combined regional trials are being held on Saturday 11 February for athletes based in the South Island; with U17 coaches Mel Bennett and Leyton Haddleton in attendance alongside U19 coaches Matt Lacey and Josh Thompson at Rangiora’s MainPower Stadium. Subsequent trials are also being held for the Lower North Island, Mid North Island and Top North Island in the weekends following.
Following these four regional camps, 24 athletes – as chosen by the national team coaching staff – will be invited to attend a National camp in April, with this camp used to help solidify the Men’s and Women’s national teams for the upcoming U17 and U19 World Cup cycles.
Athletes are selected for each regional camp at the recommendation of the local Association they are registered with. U19’s Men’s head coach, Matt Lacey says that he is excited to see these young athletes in action this weekend.
“We’ll have the opportunity to look at a range of different athletes throughout this trial process, knowing that a couple of players in this age group have already been to a FIBA World Cup at the U17 level, and seeing the U15 group that will be the bottom age group for the Junior Tall Blacks going to Oceania Champs this year – so the signs are really good,” says Lacey.
“We’ve got some international size and athleticism that we’ll be able to put forward and compete against some of those bigger countries; it’ll allow us to be a little bit more competitive against some of the bigger, stronger powerhouses that we’ll come up against in international play.”
About the FIBA age group cycles:
There are currently two FIBA cycles operating at age group level across the Men’s and Women’s competitions:
- The U17 World Cup Cycle is for athletes born in 2007 and 2008, which began last year with the FIBA U15 Oceania Champs in Guam. With both the U15 Boy’s and U15 Girl’s team finishing second at this event, they each qualified for the 2023 FIBA Asia Championships – with the U16 Women’s Asia Champs held in July and the U16 Men’s in September. Should either team finish in the top four in their respective tournament, they qualify for the U17 FIBA World Cup in 2024.
- The U19 World Cup Cycle starts in October this year, with the first event for both the Men’s and Women’s teams being the U17 FIBA Oceania Champs. In a similar format to the U17 World Cup Cycle, if either team finishes in the top two of their respective tournament, they qualify for the U18 FIBA Asia Cup in 2024 – which is a pathway to the pinnacle event of this cycle, the U19 FIBA World Cup in 2025.
BBNZ U16 & U17 Regional Trials
- Sat 11 Feb – U16 / U17 South Island regional trials, MainPower Stadium, Rangiora
- Sat 18 Feb – U16 / U17 Lower North Island regional trials, Ākau Tangi Sports Centre, Wellington
- Sat 25 Feb – U16 / U17 Mid North Island regional trials, Trustpower Arena, Tauranga
- Sun 26 Feb – U16 / U17 Top North Island regional trials, Pulman Arena, Takanini on Sun 26 Feb.