It's billed as a Napier Boys' High School versus NBHS Old Boys basketball match but it is way more than that.

The 12.30pm tip off at the Rodney Green Centennial Events Centre hall in Napier is about sharing the tenets of what shapes an individual's life to fit productively into society.

"The kaupapa [purpose] behind this event is about reconnecting old boys but also allowing the current students to see what we had to go through to get to where we are today," says Leon Pohe, of Leicester, England, who is among former NBHS 1992 champions and ex-Hawks bringing to fruition the brainchild of Jackson Macfarlane whose son, Jaxson, 17, is the captain of the NBHS team.

"It's also a good opportunity for basketball in Hawke's Bay to have a good look at themselves and see that it's all about the community," says the former NBHS basketballer.


He is marvelling at the support they received when he was here 25 years ago and knowing the same figures will be involved again on Saturday as their No1 fans.

A former Hawk assistant coach under Tab Baldwin, Macfarlane himself ticks all the boxes above and is hoping that symbol of respect will be acknowledged every two years.

The entry fee is $3 for anyone over 5 years old on a day when fans will be provided with music, raffle tickets and sausage sizzles, although Eftpos isn't available.

All the proceeds from the big basketball day will go towards helping to fund the NBHS team to regional qualifying tournaments as well as the New Zealand Secondary Schools' Tournament this September.

A former two-season Hawk, Pohe says the subject was first broached about 10 weeks ago when he returned here after a decade-long hiatus from England.

"It was more a reunion between the boys but also to try to catch up with the current students of Napier Boys' High," says the 41-year-old rugby coach and player agent, revealing it was simply a suggestion to play a game.

But that proposition soon evolved into a drive to give something back to the school, financially or spiritually.

Basketball Hawke's Bay came on board and so did the sponsors from the early'90s.


"It's been nice getting in touch with friends who were involved in basketball in those days," says Pohe, who played on the 1992 team, the only one in the province to ever claim national honours.

"It's actually quite mind-boggling when you think about it," he says.

In those days they were a "band of brothers" who lived around Maraenui and Tamatea, co-existing on a platform of friendship in front of the backdrop of a lower socio-economic background.

"We did everything together," Pohe says, recalling how they often went to his house after training.

That routine at the home of Maraenui church pastors Rita and Reta Pohe, now living in Mahia, included the boys having a haircut, including the most legendary of NBHS graduates, Paul Henare, whose Tall Blacks began their Rio Olympics qualifying tournament early this morning against hosts Philippines.

"You know, my mum would put on food for whoever turned up so we became more like brothers than teammates," Pohe says.

Pivotal to their cohesiveness on court was having a successful coach in Paul Trass, a retired general manager of Basketball HB.

"I sort of hold in high regard for everything I've ever done to a guy by the name of Paul Trass.

"We were very raw, naive so in a lot of ways that also helped us in terms of winning a title in 1992."

They were blissfully oblivious of other pedigree players from rival teams at the nationals. "To us they were just numbers in a different jersey."

Pohe feels Trass' coaching methods were somewhat unorthodox but practical and tailored to their needs.

"We bought basic singlets from some place like Hallensteins and drawing the numbers on them ourselves," he says, noting they wore plain white T-shirts over their singlets with the name of a petrol giant emblazoned across the front.

"I remember walking to the stadium with our things in a plastic bag while these other guys [top opposition teams] were in their tracksuit pants and tops and shorts that matched."

In hindsight he takes his hat off to the coaches, managers and parents who did a stellar job of camouflaging the other distractions from them.

Pohe vividly remembers going to the nationals in North Harbour where they billeted at a convent because the team had nowhere else to go.

"They had apparently never taken anyone else from the outside before," he says.

It's imperative, he believes, for the current NBHS team to focus on the singular task of competing at the nationals without even their parents threading worry beads about anything.

The significance of the 1992 team's achievement is reflected in his suspicion that the only other Bay school team to get close to a crown was William Colenso College schoolgirls' first team, of Napier, finishing runners up (81-48) in 1990 to Church College.

"For me it'll be nice to see it done again."

His brother, Brent Pohe, 46, a carpet factory manager in Wellington, who will be Old Boys captain on Saturday, and other former pupils such as the senior Macfarlane were "legends of the game" who paved the way for the 1992 boys.

"When we left I know we had boys like Paul Henare coming through, so to come back now to see they have become legends of the game so to be sharing the game with us will be an exciting time," he says.

He reveals that the old boys - who range from 1989 veterans to those who are in their early 20s - will train together for the first time tomorrow.

His 1994-95 seasons with the Curtis Wooten-coached Hawks was memorable but a difficult time to make a name for himself on the account of some big names on the court such as Kerry Boagni, Willie Burton, Byron Vaetoe, Brendon Pongia and Judd Falvell.

"If you saw five minutes of the game then you were extremely lucky. So for me it was just an exciting time and it paved the way for who I am today."

His father wanted his four sons to play rugby but only one was in the Napier Boys High School first XV team.

In the late 20s, Pohe went to Britain with his English wife and two children to test the waters.

He didn't want his son, Javiah, 22, and daughter, Leeannah, 20, growing up knowing just one side of the family and education in Britain was as good as it was in New Zealand, he says.

"I have no regrets in terms of my children's future," says Pohe of Javiah, who is playing rugby professionally in France while Leeannah is pursuing a sports degree at Loughborough University.

Having coached rugby at Leicester Tigers, he has since established his own business coaching at Loughborough University as well as mentoring a couple of other teams in Leicester.

"As of late I've started my own rugby agency looking after players and their contracts," says Pohe, who is hoping to open avenues for New Zealand players to ply their trade there professionally.

"We have so much strength and depth in rugby here.

"I know there are so many boys who are untouched and untapped here."