Kids chase shot at academy

Attitude prevailed in the first basketball academy trials for youngsters in Hawke's Bay.

The 2012 Paul Henare and Paora Winitana Basketball Academy lured 55 basketballers from the age of 12 to 18 to the Hastings Sports Centre last weekend.

"We had some apologies from families whose children were involved with a touch tournament in Palmy North at the weekend," says co-director Henare after 40 boys and 15 girls went through the routines with him and co-director Paora Winitana.

Happy with the turnout and effort, HBS Bank Hawks coach Henare says it was quite humbling for him and Hawks guard Winitana to see how hard the children were prepared to work to be part of the inaugural academy starting in February.

"We'll cut the numbers down to 36 late next month, around January 27. That'll be the final cut for the February 13 start of the academy.

"It's pretty amazing because we had a chat with both groups and there were some people who really want to be part of it," he says of the boys who were asked to display their talent on Friday night and the girls on Saturday.

"We probably would have liked to see more girls there," says Henare, who led the New Zealand Breakers to their maiden ANBL title last season and the only team title this country has won in an Australian competition in any code.

While some players found certain aspects of the routine unfamiliar, it didn't deter them from putting their hands up to be counted.

"Paora and I have been away from the Bay for a while so it was good to get amongst it and it was pretty cool," Henare says, adding the majority of the girls were representative age-group players although a couple had not played the game before.

The boys had more non-representative players.

While it will cost $1150, GST included, to groom each teenager, the former Tall Blacks guards stress parents won't have to contribute a penny.

That's because talks are under way to secure sponsorship from institutions for an academy that is autonomous from Basketball HB and the Hawks franchise.

The academy is open to all teenagers, regardless of whether they play other codes, and the pair intend to groom them also to be better ambassadors of society by acquiring a better discipline to training, eating habits and other lifestyle habits.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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