Two Whanganui teenagers will test their skills against the largest number of junior basketballers in the world when they travel to the Eltham Dandenong Junior Basketball Tournament in Melbourne, Australia in January.
Whanganui City College student Carlos Hill and Cullinane's Naaman Andrews will compete at the largest competition of its kind in the world with more than 1300 teams from Australia, New Zealand, United States and Philippines among other countries. They will represent the Ngāmotu Hoopclub Uunde-16 Boys under the watchful eye of Taranaki-based coach Josh Reeves.
Reeves was the New Zealand Under-14 assistant coach and took a side to another tournament in Melbourne earlier this year.
And in January this year, Reeves took an under-16 boys side to the Eltham Dandenong tournament and that team included Andrews. This next trip will also include an under-14 boys team.
Both Whanganui basketballers have impressive backgrounds despite their young ages.
Hill was captain of the 2018 Whanganui Under-15 Boys representative team and was named the 2018 Whanganui Basketball Association Secondary Schools Most Valuable Player.
Andrews was a 2015 Whanganui Basketball Under-15 Boys team member and is a returning member of the Ngāmotu Hoopclub Under-16 Boys that travelled in January this year and found great experience and development under Reeves.
The Kiwi touring teams, which have been dubbed the New Zealand Select teams, feature representative players from Hutt Valley, Whanganui and members of Reeves' Ngāmotu Hoop Club Academy.
They will play in the under-16 and under-14 grades at the event which runs from January 21-29 in Melbourne, playing club level competition.
With travel and accommodation costs the responsibility of players, the New Zealand Select teams may not be the strongest able to be assembled, but the tournament would be a great learning opportunity for the players.
The New Zealand Select team will not be the only New Zealand squad heading to the event, with outfits from North Harbour and Wellington among others making the trip.
"Last year we selected a North Island team only from those players able to afford the trip. Not ideal, but this is something we are looking to address through sponsorship in the future. This time we have included an under-14 team and have selected players from throughout the country including the South Island," Reeves said.
"While the teams include those who can afford the trip, the players we have selected are genuinely talented. The trip is designed to give these guys a feel of what it's like to play at this level so they know what they need to aspire to."