New Zealand U16 Women’s Head Coach, Mel Bennett has today named a squad of 12 for the FIBA U16 Women’s Asian Championship – which tips off in Amman, Jordan from 10–16 July 2023.
The U16 Women’s National Team includes: Waikimihia Douglas-Karauna, Rica-Chanel Enriquez-Paea, Bailey Flavell, Sophia Hickey, Keriana Hippolite, Pahlyss Hokianga, Jennifer Mailei, Anaiya Nelson, Graecyn Parahi, Emma Rogers, Cassidy Thomson and Kodee Williams-Sefo.
The squad features seven players from the U15 Girl’s National Team that earned silver at the U15 Oceania Champs in Guam last November; led by Hokianga who was named in the All-Star Five team after leading her team in points (15.8), assists (5.2) and steals (4.8). Williams-Sefo, who earned MVP honours at the U15 Nationals in 2022, was initially a member of last year’s U15 national team before being ruled out due to injury.
With the Kiwi’s second-place finish in Guam earning them a ticket to the U16 Women’s Asian Championship in July, Coach Bennett now sets her sights on a top four finish for New Zealand – which in turn assures them entry into the World Cup in 2024, their pinnacle age group event.
Coach Bennett says that she was pleased with the U15 national team’s performance last year, despite limited preparation and several unfortunate injuries.
“Last year we had an April selection camp, closely followed by U15 Nationals, and then a three month wait until November to compete; we were limited in our ability to get together as a full team prior to the event,” says Bennett.
“Despite this, I felt we had a commendable performance and did enough to qualify for Asian Champs – which was our goal.
“By comparison [in 2023] we’ll need to be more innovative with the limited time; our April National Camp has acted not only as a selection activity but also a preparation opportunity. We’ve had to adapt and be creative with the player’s specific individual workouts, in conjunction with the conditioning and fitness expectations we’ve already put in place.
“This is critical for us to hit the Asian Championship itself with some momentum.”
Bennett is excited at the combination of new emerging talent and returning athletes from last years’ campaign.
“The composition of the team includes a trio of playmakers in Hokianga, Thomson and Enriquez-Paea. Newcomer Hippolite will also add to our guard group alongside Flavell, Rogers and Nelson.
“Williams-Sefo has the ability to play multiple positions, so she’ll be a welcome addition to our motion-makers and our interior group which inlcudes Douglas-Karauna, Parahi, Hickey and Mailei.”
The U16 Women’s National Team will assemble for a pre-departure camp in Auckland prior to flying to Amman via Dubai in July. The FIBA U16 Women’s Asian Championship takes place in Amman, Jordan from 10–16 July 2023, with New Zealand fighting for a top-four finish in order to qualify for the World Cup in 2024.
FIBA U16 Women’s Asian Championship Squad