Six Kapiti Basketballers had an amazing opportunity to play in Age Group Basketball Tournaments in Las Vegas USA in July.
The 6 players from Kapiti were Jack Hughes-Richards, Michael Tracy, Kristian McLeod, Emily Teono, Amiria Reweti and Dana-Jayne Mills.
All were selected for the New Zealand Basketball Academy Age Group Teams who played in Tournaments in Las Vegas.
All players did extremely well and learnt a lot from the experience and all are hungry to return again.
The competition was fierce and physical and took a bit of getting used to, along with the different style of refereeing where only blatant and obvious fouls etc are called.
Mixing it with the best in America
Age Group Teams came from all over the USA to play in these tournaments and all with attitudes and determination to win.
Coaches, Players and Spectators were all intrigued with seeing these teams that had come – ALL THE WAY FROM NEW ZEALAND and from the homeland of 2013 Number 12 NBA Draft pick Steve Adams. All our teams played well and there was a lot of interest in our Players and Programmes.
The weather was another factor for our players – days of 120F – heat like a lot of our players had never experienced before so it was all about constant hydration and training in the conditions before each tournament.
A big thrill for the players was Oklahoma City’s Kiwi player Steve Adams (with Jack Hughes-Richards in the photo) turning up at the Tournament (the exact tournament where it all started for Steve 2 years ago) coming to support the NZ players, attending their trainings and games, and also our NZ Teams being part of Steve Adam’s NBA official contract signing at the NBA Pro-Summer League in Las Vegas where the NZ players did the Haka for BIG STEVE.
How the players felt about the experience
I could say a lot more about the trip and the experiences and opportunities for our Kapiti players but thought it best they put it in their own words:
Travelling to Las Vegas to compete in Basketball has been a once in a lifetime opportunity that I will never forget.I played for the 15 years and Under age group team of the NZ Basketball Academy.
I have learnt a lot about basketball and competing at this higher level.We were fortunate to compete in 2 separate tournaments.We were unplaced in the first tournament, but it set a great platform for the second tournament.
In the second tournament we improved in leaps and bounds and earned a place in the final. It was an even match with the scores close at half time. However, our opposition started shooting the lights out in the second half and we couldn’t keep up with them.
We were definitely focussed on winning that final, but were pleased with the runners up title. (Amiria is front left in the photo.)
There were 3 main lessons I can take from this experience.
1. The importance of fitness and training.
2. Adjusting to the difference in the American rules.
3. Adjusting to the higher level of physicality that the game is played with in America.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the NZ Basketball Academy for giving me this opportunity and the Kapiti Basketball Association and wider Kapiti community for supporting me in this venture.
We trialled for 6 months to be selected for the NZ Basketball Academy Team. Once the teams were selected we had trainings leading up to Vegas. The team I got into was the 14 & Under Boys. We came 4th in first tournament and we came third in the second tournament. Highlights from this trip to the USA for me would be gaining knowledge on what the game is like over there and how different it is and how much more physical it is. Also getting to know the boys in our team, seeing America as it was my first time going there, and being able to go to the NBA Summer League, and a few American Coaches saying they loved how I play and that I would have been one of the best there .
What I learnt from this trip is – now knowing what I need to improve on to be competitive in the USA, and what it takes to be good there. Also I need to work on a lot of things because over there you have to be able to do everything.
In February I was chosen to play for the 14 & Under New Zealand Basketball Academy Girls Team. We went to Las Vegas at the start of July and participated in the Swoosh National Champs Tournament which we ended taking out first place. My highlights over the trip was obviously playing the American teams and beating them, but just having the chance to represent New Zealand in America was freaking amazing, everyone was obsessed with our accents and always asked us questions about our country. Also getting to know a lot of new people was pretty cool.
What I learnt from this experience was that the games were a lot different to how we play in NZ, a lot rougher, but it was alright because it didn’t take us long for us to get use to this style of play. I’m looking forward to hopefully being selected again and doing it again next year.
I played for the Under15 NZBA Team, we only won 2 out of 11 games but we continued to improve throughout the tournament. We got the opportunity to see some of the best players in the world play when we went to the Team USA scrimmage which we took a lot from.
I can take a lot away from this trip that will help me with my game and will help me improve so hopefully I can go again next year.
I played for the New Zealand Basketball Academy in a tournament in Las Vegas in July 2013. I played for the Under14 Boys Team as a small forward. Our team placed 6th out of 8 in the Tournament. We played against a variety of different teams from America, including a Hawaiian team, in multiple games over the course of the 12 day trip.
I learnt heaps from playing at a higher standard of basketball, which involved a faster more physical game where the whistle didn’t go all the time. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and the sights of Vegas.
I was selected to play for the 14 & Under New Zealand Basketball Academy Girls Team. We travelled to Las Vegas at the start of July and participated in the Swoosh Tournament. We played a number of games. I was very proud of my team placing first in the finals against a team from California. My favourite part of the trip was playing against the best teams in America and getting to know them.
Other than the Basketball another highlight was seeing the Michael Jackson Cirque de Soleil Show full of acrobatics, dancing and music. It was the best thing I’d ever seen. I learnt that the standard of basketball is much higher in America than New Zealand. It was more physical and their skill level was way higher and I think all of them had been playing since they were very little.
Report by Angelo Robinson