Under-13s win nationals' spots

Last updated 11:10 17/07/2012

WINNING ATTITUDE: Porirua under-13 coach Lester Mohi with his team in New Plymouth recently, where they won five of six matches.

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Porirua's tradition of basketball excellence continues, with both boys and girls' under-13 sides performing strongly at the regional tournament in New Plymouth recently.

Both sides have made it through to the nationals, to be hosted in Tauranga in October. The boys finished top qualifier from this region, ahead of Wellington and Hutt Valley, while the girls made it to their final, losing to Taranaki Country.

Boys' coach Lester Mohi says they had to do it tough, only taking up seven players due to other commitments and ineligibility because of age. Their seventh member was only 10 years old.

''I decided to be quite strategic and play a tight defence, which worked out for us. We only had one player of any great size, but these boys were great, they ran themselves absolutely ragged. They consistently made good choices [out on court].''

They finished tied on the same points with two other teams in their pool and then knocked over Wellington in post-pool play for third/fourth to ensure a spot at nationals.

The team won five of their six games and the loss was by three points to Taranaki Country.

''We'll have a good seeding for nationals, it's a very satisfying feeling.''

Mohi says they have great family support and draw their players from ''all of Porirua's compass points'', from Pukerua Bay to Whitby and eastern Porirua schools.

Before the nationals he said a bit more recruiting - especially one or two ''big men'' - may be needed to bolster their numbers.

The girls' coach Brett Jarman was also proud of his team's performances in New Plymouth, where they also won five from six. They lost the final to Taranaki Country.

His charges have been practising together since February and the commitment and enthusiasm is a huge part of their success. Five girls are in their first year playing the sport.

''When they get on court they're determined to do well. We're a very quick team, these guys run hard.
''Our purpose is to play good basketball - enjoy it, and the score sorts itself out. They had a ball over that weekend [at regionals].''

Ainsleyana Puleiata and Cheyne Copeland have progressed to the next stage of New Zealand under-13 selection camps.

Jarman says there will be plenty of fundraising, with support from the community, before Tauranga, where they will be competing against the best other 15 teams in the country ''to find out how we compare''.

''If we come first or 16th, it will be fine, everyone will have fun.''

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