The sense of kinship that whānau possess is something countless teams yearn for with time in a sporting cauldron.
It is something the Toro Atu men's basketballers believe they are close to finding, if they haven't already enshrined in their collective culture.
"We're a very close team and we're actually mates so we're about more than just being together," said player Joshua Anderson after he was named men's player of round four of the Hawke's Bay Elite League last night.
Captain Ravi Mani wasn't available due to family matters so Anderson said the everyone chipped in without anyone assuming the mantle of captaincy in beating Napier Boys' High School 86-77 at the Pettigrew-Green Arena in Napier.
The 22-year-old forward said the team culture was pivotal in playing for one another in the worthy drive to promote mental health awareness after mutating from Victory Royals to Toro Atu this season.
"We're confident [of winning the title] although the Hastings Old Boys' team didn't have a full team when we played them," he said.
Anderson had combined well with Taranaki Mountainairs skipper Alonzo Burton as NBHS struggled to contain the Toro Atu offence as the victors had streaked to a 33-43 halftime lead.
"I actually can't take any credit for that," said Anderson, an orchard hand, paying tribute to the guards who created the space and time for him to claim a 33 points with Burton adding 27.
NBHS were no shrinking violets, roaring back in the third spell on the platform of a fast-paced pressing defence and some superb scoring from Clifton Bush III, who finished with a match-high 36 points, narrow the lead to 60-58.
It was Burton's back-to-back bombs from downtown at the start of the fourth quarter which set the tone in the final quarter, spurring Anderson to go on a six-point run.
Toro Atu 86 (J Anderson 33, A Burton 27) NBHS 77 (C Bush III 36, K Kara 13, T Kendon 11).
Former NBL veteran centre Kareem Johnson was the fulcrum for the Kings' 84-76 come-from-behind victory over Napier Technical Sweepers.
American-born Johnson showed his worth as an anchor to unfurl the best shooting perimeter in the league through the likes of incumbent and former Hawks in Dom McGovan, Darryl Jones and the Davies twins, Damion and Dwayne.
Kings nailed half a dozen three-pointers in the first quarter but it wasn't until the second spell that the Sweepers showed some fire in the belly, Morgan Maskell scoring nine points as Tech led 41-38 at halftime.
Ti Poto and McGovan were in the three-point mood for the Kings but Matt Edmondson and Maskell combined for 20 points in the third quarter to help the Sweepers maintain a 63-59 lead coming into the final quarter.
Old legs and a roster of seven players took its toll on Napier Tech as the Kings claimed the final quarter, 25-13. NBL stalwart and former Tall Black Willie Burton scored nine points for the Sweepers but Johnson had his way on the inside to seal the Kings' 3-1 record.
Kings 84 (K Johnson 27, D McGovan 19, D Davies 14) Napier Tech 76 (M Edmondson 22, M Maskell 19, W Burton 13).
It seems the old boys don't need to learn new tricks in what was labelled the Akina grudge match.
Leading league scorer Reece Tuala-Fata, on the heels of his 45-point performance against Napier Tech in the previous round, was handful in Hastings Old Boys grinding down a youthful Hastings Boys' High School 85-60.
Ex-Hawk Tuala-Fata opened with 12 consecutive points compared with HBHS top scorer Lamour Spooner claiming six first-half points as the Old Boys led 45-31 at halftime.
Odyssey Alam nailed back-to-back threes for HBHS in the second half but Tuala-Fata was on fire, scoring 10 of the Old Boys' first 12 points to steer Old Boys to a 2-2 record.
Hastings Old Boys 85 (R Tuala-Fata 34, J Heather 20, D Miller 14) HBHS 60 (O Clinton 15, L Spooner 13, O Alam 12).
In the women's league, Napier Girls' High School kept their unblemished record intact after overwhelming Bridge Pa 86-50 in the top-of-the-table clash.
Versatile guard Melika Samia was declared women's player of the round although she's a Year 11 player.
"I guess the national programme gives me a little bit more experience," said Samia, who also is benefiting from playing at an international level, for example, against Australia.
The 15-year-old, who plays point guard or shooting guard, says in the Bay league the teenagers use their athleticism to run the other two women's teams off the court.
"We quite like to play full-court [press], applying pressure on the ball and we're quite agile," she said.
However, Samia said NGHS, who head off to the Lower North Island Secondary School tournament in a fortnight, rather enjoy the physicality from the women's league encounters.
"We're not the biggest teams [among secondary schools sides]."
The schoolgirls had posted an18-2 lead before ending the first quarter 31-4 ahead on account of a clinical attitude at both ends of the court.
Samia's three baskets from the carpark in the first quarter set the tone for NGHS who were a top-10 finisher in the New Zealand Secondary Schoolgirls' Premiership last year.
Bridge Pa were missing the nous of Kahlia Awa, which left Hastings Girls' High School player Raedeen Blake to carry the load as NGHS put the storm shutters up.
Passion Te Amo stepped up to fill the scoring void for Bridge Pa with 22 points but it wasn't enough to stem the NGHS tide.
Aaliyah Beamsley was superb for NGHS alongside promising year 9 players Madison Cunningham and Aliyah King.
NGHS 86 (M Samia 18, K Burgess 17, A Beamsley 16) Bridge Pa 50 (P Te Amo 22, R Blake and S Sadler 9).
As competitive as the Ravens have been in their three previous outings, they weren't able to break the duck when they succumbed 61-42 to the Flyers.
It was a clash of sides who hang their hats on the pillar of defence but the Ravens were missing Kathleen Nahora but had welcomed Journey Otene and Rhan Sharrock for the season's first appearances.
It was knife-edge stuff in the first as they were locked 20-all into halftime. Top scorer Kaya Rameka and Otene were Ravens' picks while Kaleel Spooner and leading scorer Tayler Clare had scored six points each for the Flyers.
However, centre Kaya Lord's 9-0 run in the third quarter catapulted the Flyers to a 29-20 respite in the third quarter, relegating the Ravens to play catch-up basketball at their peril.
Lord had carried on her dominance on the inside in the fourth spell for the Flyer's back-to-back victories.
Flyers 61 (K Lord 15, K Spooner 11, T Clare 10) Ravens 42 (J Otene & K Rameka 10, L Bartlett 8).
RD 4 DETAILS
Men's standings after rd 4 (won/lost): Toro Atu 4-0, Kings 3-1, Napier Tech Sweepers 2-2, Hastings Old Boys 2-2, NBHS 1-3, HBHS 0-4.
Women: NGHS 4-0, Bridge Pa 2-2, Flyers 2-2, Ravens 0-4.
Men's top 10 scorers (minimum 2 games percentage): 1. Reece Tuala-Fata (Hastings OB) 32.7, 2. Kareem Johnson (Kings) 30.3, 3. Alonzo Burton (Toro Atu) 27.7, 4. Josh Anderson (Toro Atu) 25.5, 5. Jacob Murphy (NBHS) 23.3, 6. Kobe Kara (NBHS) and Ravi Mani (Toro Atu) 19, 8. Dom McGovan (Kings) 18.3, 9. Lamour Spooner (HBHS) 16.3, 10. Willie Burton (Napier Tech) 15.
Women: 1. Madison Cunningham (NGHS) 17, 2. Kahlia Awa (Bridge Pa) 14.3, 3. Kelarney Burgess (NGHS) 14, 4. Melika Samia (NGHS) 13.5, 5. Raedeen Blake (Bridge Pa) 12.3, 6. Passion Te Amo (Bridge Pa) 11.8, 7. Tayler Clare and Kaya Lord (Flyers); Kaya Rameka (Ravens) 11, 10. Aaliyah Beamsley (NGHS) 10.
Kings v Hastings Old Boys (PGA 2).
Toro Atu v Napier Tech Sweepers (PGA 3).
Flyers v Bridge Pa (PGA 2).
Note: NGHS will default to Ravens while HBHS v NBHS result will be taken from the HB Secondary School League semifinal from Friday, August 16, as the school teams compete at the Lower North Island Regional Tournament.
Wednesday, September 28: No games because PGA, Centennial Hall not available.