Basketball: Future bright for Bay ballers

By Andre Zwan

He IS 6ft5 and growing. A Maori All Black shirt was his dream but now the 14-year-old is making waves in basketball.

Matiu Spooner will represent the New Zealand U16 boys' team to play Australian State teams in Adelaide next month.

Spooner and fellow Lindisfarne College pupil Jaxson MacFarlane, who is a non-travelling reserve, attended trials in Auckland on Saturday and yesterday.

Dreaming of one day playing in the NBA, Spooner and MacFarlane, 14, who stands 6ft4 in his socks, were the only players from Hawke's Bay invited to attend the trials.

MacFarlane and Spooner started playing basketball about two years ago. McFarlane's father, Jackson, an entertainer and former Napier Boys' High School player, encouraged his son to play. Both boys attended the Breakers' junior summer camp in January.

Former Bay development officer Ben Valentine spotted Spooner.

"I did not have a clue [about basketball]," said Spooner. "However, I soon got to grips with it and the bug bit me.

I have not looked back since. I am really enjoying basketball.

"Yes, I met [ex-Hawks player and assistant coach] Willie Burton and played against him. I learnt quite a bit from him and he told me I could develop into a good player. That was great coming from such a legend."

Spooner was nervous but excited going to Auckland: "I gave it my best shot."

The pair, who attend the Paul Henare and Paora Winitana Basketball Academy, have been training pre-season with the Hawks for the past two months.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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