Kapiti Basketballers in Vegas

All players did extremely well and learnt a lot from the experience and all are hungry to return again. Angelo Robinson

Playing in the States

By Angelo Robinson and the players

Las Vegas Tour 2014 Emily Teono (2)Six Kapiti Basketballers had an amazing opportunity to play in Age Group Basketball Tournaments in Las Vegas USA in July:Jack Hughes-Richards, Emily Teono, Zach Shearman, Josh Bunker, Kahu Sturmey, Emmerson Kavakura and Petelo Leaupepe.

All were selected for the New Zealand Basketball Academy Age Group Teams who played in Tournaments in Las Vegas. 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.

Age Group Teams came from all over the USA, plus Mexico & Canada 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.

The weather was another factor for our players – days of 110 to 115F – heat a lot of our players had never experienced before so it was all about constant hydration and training in the conditions before each tournament.

Here’s how our Kapiti players summed up their experience of playing stateside.

Emily Teono: 15 & Under Girls

Las Vegas Tour 2014 Emily Teono“American basketball is a lot more physical, faster and stronger than New Zealand basketball. The intensity is awesome, I love the way they play. I’ve learnt so much playing in America and now I know what I need to do to get better.

My team was full of good vibes and positivity, we all had a close bond on and off the court. This is one of the reasons why I think we were so successful. We played two tournaments the first one ‘Jam On It’ was an age group competition 15 & under. Our team won our pool and quarter finals, which took us to the semi-finals. We took off from the first whistle with half an hour of hard basketball and pulled out on top. The heat was outrageous even with air-con!

‘East Sidez’ from Hawaii came on top in their semi-finals as well. This meant we had to play them for 1st and 2nd place. But they couldn’t quite hold us down from the get go, they put up such a good fight. After the big win the other NZBA teams did a haka for us which was such an honour!

Our second tournament, called ‘Grand Finale’ was Varsity Grade (16 & 17yrs). We lost one game in our pool, but because of points differential we made it to the finals against a team from Wyoming. We played a hard game, but they played better. We came 2nd. An awesome result against older girls.

I’m very grateful to have experienced such a cool opportunity and very proud of what our team has achieved.”

Jack Hughes-Richards: 15 & Under Boys

“Playing in the Vegas Tour for the 15 & Under Boys was a lot tougher than last year.

It has highlighted some skills I need to improve on personally if I am going to take my basketball any further in the future. I have put a plan in place already to work on this, I was grateful to my NZBA Coach,Troy Mclean, for the time he spent coaching us and the advice he gave to me during the tour.

I enjoyed the time I spent with the other team members. I feel really lucky to have been given the opportunity to play Basketball in the USA.”

Zach Shearman: U14 Boys Team

Las Vegas Tour 2014 Zach Shearman & Josh Bunker“It was fun playing in the tournaments.  It was hard to start with but we got there.  The games are much more physical than we are allowed to play here in New Zealand.  I learnt to play harder and  tougher, so when I go back to the States I know what I am up against and I know what to bring to my College and Rep Teams.

I got highest scorer for both our tournaments we played in. Our team played as a team and we all worked together and got along well. We did well considering we played up two grades higher and against older players.

  • Highlights on the court for me were getting used to the USA style of play and putting up a fight to make the other team work for their win
  • Highlights for me off the court was going to Circus Circus, shopping and hanging out with my team mates.”

Josh Bunker: U14 Boys Team

“Going to Las Vegas is an experience I will never forget. Playing against some of the best players in America in my age group was an amazing experience. Playing in the USA is very different to New Zealand, it was much harder and the games were much rougher.

Our team was astonished at how aggressive they played but we adapted quickly. The highlights of the tour for me was playing basketball in America, watching an NBA Pro – Summer League game and shopping.

We were especially proud of ourselves because we were playing two age groups above our age group. The temperature outside was incredibly hot – 110 F most days, the outside cooling system they had in one of the outside malls was amazing as it sprayed a fine mist over you. The stadium were we played was air conditioned helping us to play. I am hoping to be selected to go again next year.”

Kahu Sturmey: U14 Girls Team

“For two years I’ve played basketball with a local team  in a Wellington College competition and also at Hoop Club in Kapiti.   Through Hoop Club I was told to register for the New Zealand Basketball Academy training camps held over the summer.

NZBA is a Basketball Development Programme run in Wellington, and every year they take some age grade teams over to the United States to play in summer tournaments . Through the training camps I was selected for an NZBA team to play in Las Vegas.  The teams that went are made up of college and intermediate kids from around New Zealand, and our team came third in both of our tournaments.

The trip cost heaps of money but we had six months to fund raise so my family has been busy cutting and selling firewood.  Thanks to EVERYONE who bought some wood!

Through this experience I have learned heaps more about the game, and was awarded most improved player in my team. I’ve met heaps of awesome people, made new friends and played basketball against American teams in a huge building that holds  40 basketball courts!

I am grateful to the NZBA for providing me with this opportunity and I encourage others who have a love of this game to have a go too.  Hoop Club is a good place to start, good basketball development, good contacts in the sport, and good people to meet.  If you’ve got any questions come and see me, I am happy to help you out.”

Emmerson Kavakura: U13 Boys

Emmerson Kavakura- Las Vegas Tour 2014“Our U13 Boys team won their division playing in the final against Mexico winning 40 to 28. I was fortunate to play in every game, and I learnt that being mentally prepared was essential to staying in the game.

There was a lot of ball pressure in all the games and I felt that my ball security improved, I also realised that fitness plays an important part in the way you think and react in every game and this can be crucial in close scoring games.

The games we played a couple of days before the actual tournament were great as our team was able to get a feel for how they play in America, how the refs are and it was a good warm up to building our team’s confidence. The first few games I was very nervous because the quality of the players was high and the game was a lot faster than here in NZ.

Overall being able to take part in the Las Vegas Tour was an experience that has made me hungrier to get on the court, and also what to expect if I am selected next year, which I have set as a personal goal.”