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Passion and desire to grow basketball in the region has seen the revival of the Northland Suns men's basketball team after a 12-year hiatus.
Whangarei-based Travis McIlroy, who last year was contracted to the National Basketball  League side Auckland Stars, has been working alongside Tai Tokerau Basketball to resurrect the regional team. He was appointed chief executive and operations manager of the Northland Suns after Tai Tokerau agreed to the move.
"The Northland Suns was once a highly recognised team in local communities and around the country before it became defunct in 1998. Two of the biggest names in New Zealand basketball, Pero Cameron and Stan Hill, have played for this team in the past," he said.
While a Tai Tokerau side, made up mainly of Whangarei players, has been playing in the Conference Basketball League - essentially division two of the NBL - it did not have the same  clout attached to it as the Northland Suns did.
"It was seen as more of a Whangarei team. We want to build Suns identity as a Northland team, so players in the region have something to aspire to," McIlroy said.
While the Suns will start off in the  CBL at the end of July after NBL finals, the aim is to have the team back playing in the NBL within three years. This is seen as a realistic time frame for McIlroy and Tai Tokerau to work with, to get a good team structure in place, build a fan base and fund the cost of entering the team into the national competition.
There is plenty of interest from players, with three already contracted for the initial season.
Guard McIlroy (1.9m) will be joined by 16-year-old centre Tre Fong (2.06m), who played for Tai Tokerau last year, and Hukerenui's Corey Poa, who played alongside McIlroy in the Auckland Stars in 2009.
The rest of the team would be finalised after the open trials, scheduled for April 30, at Kensington Stadium.
"We will also be naming a development team which would play in division three after the trials," McIlroy explained,
He was hoping for a large trials turnout at  Kensington Stadium, where the Suns home games would likely be played.
"We're not looking for a Lebron James, but we're looking forward to see who is out there. I believe there is a heap of potential and that we have some future Tall Blacks up here. By having the Northland Suns, we will keep players in Northland - they won't have to go to other regions or overseas to play professional basketball. It's my focus to show kids there is a career path in the sport - they can progress to the NBL and potentially the Tall Blacks,
without leaving Northland."
Trials for the Northland Suns are open to interested players  on April 30, from 6.30pm.