Today Basketball New Zealand announced the players that will represent New Zealand in four under-16 age-group teams, who will travel to Australia in June and July to take on some of Australia's top junior teams.
The New Zealand U16 teams will play in the Australian State Championships from June 29 to July 10, in Melbourne. This tournament is the most prestigious age-group national basketball event in Australia, where the best of the best juniors in Australia and New Zealand compete.
The New Zealand 'A' U16 boys and girls teams will compete in the Medibank Classic from June 9 to June 14, which is an invitational competition primarily for clubs. 2016 will be the first year that New Zealand team has been invited to this tournament.
Coach of the New Zealand Under 16 Boys team, Dave MacKay, says these events will be a big test.
"Both of these competitions bring together the most talented junior players in Australia.
While the ultimate goal for any junior basketballer is to get to the World Championships, we will treat these Australian tournaments with equal respect because it's the task that's right in front of us and the competition is tough.
"I know our players relish the chance to test themselves at these respected Australian events, especially when they all know it's the same tournaments where the likes of NBA stars Matthew Dellavedova and Patty Mills competed and developed as juniors."
MacKay says the State Champs and the Medibank Classic are all part of the long-term preparation for these junior players. While the ultimate goal is to compete at 2018 World Championships, they must first qualify through the 2017 FIBA Asia Pacific Championships.
"One of the reasons we have selected a group of 20 girls and 20 boys, as opposed to one girls team and one boys team, is to ensure there's a broad group of players being developed, especially with the 2017 FIBA Asia Pacific Championships next year. It gives everybody an equal chance to strengthen their game as they develop, so they all have a chance to prove their abilities as we build towards the big international events.
"I believe we've selected a really gifted group of players. It's a sign that basketball in New Zealand is continuing to grow in strength," says McKay.
New Zealand U16 Girls
Ella Bradley - Waikato Basketball Council
Isabelle Cook - Taranaki Country Basketball Association
Gracie Hasler-Ewin - North Harbour Basketball
Charlisse Leger-Walker - Waikato Basketball Council
Jordyn Maddix - North Harbour Basketball
Caitlin O'Connell - Taranaki Country Basketball Association
Sharne Pupuke-Robati - Counties Manukau Basketball
Briarley Rogers - Tauranga City Basketball Associatio
Rosalia Samia - Basketball Hawkes Bay
Rashaan Smith - North Harbour Basketball
New Zealand U16 'A' Girls
Olivia Avery - Nelson Basketball Association
Tayla Dalton - North Harbour Basketball
Mareta Davidson - North Harbour Basketball
Parehuia Delamere - Harbour Basketball
Isabella Elgar - North Harbour Basketball
Emily Knight - Canterbury Basketball Association
Koha Lewis - Waikato Basketball Council
Eniselina Pale - Marlborough Basketball Association
Ashlee Strawbridge - Basketball Mid Canterbury
Moanekah Va'ai - Basketball Auckland
New Zealand U16 Men
Shalom Broughton - Tauranga City Basketball Association
Tom Cowie - Southland Basketball Association
Mitchell Dance - North Harbour Basketball
Joseph Hylton - North Harbour Basketball
Kainoa Lepou - Waikato Basketball Council
Logan McIntosh - North Harbour Basketball
Jared Thornton - North Harbour Basketball
Morgan Trott - Taranaki Country Basketball Association
Ezrah Vaigafa - Wellington Basketball Association
Marvin Williams - Basketball Auckland
New Zealand U16 'A' Men
Tyler Auelua - Wellington Basketball Association
Emmerson Kavakura - Wellington Basketball Association
Cullen Marsters - Waikato Basketball Council
Corban Mason - Waikato Basketball Council
Louis Oskam - Canterbury Basketball Association
Anzac Rissetto - Nelson Basketball Association
Colin Robins - Canterbury Basketball Association
Jacob Tawhiao - Hibiscus Coast Basketball Association
Reihana Topia-Maxwell - North Harbour Basketball
Nathan Walker - Southland Basketball Association