Vodanovich soaks up LA experience
RACING EDITOR AND COLLEGE SPORT WRITER
Tom Vodanovich has got a few more stamps in his passport.
The St Pat's Town athlete and Junior Tall Black has played basketball in five countries this year, with his latest venture being the Adidas Nations tournament in Los Angeles, the event which did much to raise the profile of former Scots College star Steven Adams.
Vodanovich and Nelson Giants centre Michael Karena both represented Asia at last week's Nations tournament, which features many of the leading high school players in the world.
Four teams from the United States were joined by squads representing Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe and Latin America. Asia did not win a game but Vodanovich loved the experience, which included training sessions, as well as matches.
"It was amazing. There is a whole different level of play over there. Asia usually struggle to win a game and we had one of the smaller teams. There were some huge people there."
Vodanovich is around 2m tall but found himself looking up to a lot of people. "I was like a dwarf - or at least not standout tall. I didn't feel very big. There were a couple of seven-footers there and heaps above my height."
Vodanovich and Karena also had to overcome some language barriers, with all of their team-mates from China. "We had a bit of trouble with that, because they didn't speak any English but we got by," Vodanovich said.
Vodanovich is hoping to play college basketball in the United States next year and the Los Angeles tournament gave him an insight into the skills required.
"I learnt heaps and especially about the way they play over there. They are a lot quicker getting up the court, know exactly want they want to do and execute it well most of the time."
Vodanovich got time as a shooting guard, small forward and power forward during the tournament. "I felt like I could hold my own defensively but offensively there is a lot I can work on if I'm going to play at that level."
With help from Kenny McFadden, Vodanovich is looking at attending a prep school in the US early next year, before hopefully heading to a college in August.
In the meantime, he will have plenty to occupy him at home.
The year 13 pupil will be a key figure as St Pat's Town attempt to win the Wellington basketball title and the Junior Tall Blacks are preparing to take on the Australian under-19 team for the Oceania title, at Porirua late next month.
St Pat's Town suffered their first loss in the Pohlen Cup competition when beaten 89-71 by defending titleholders Hutt Valley last weekend. Vodanovich was below his best, after returning from Los Angeles the previous night, but Hutt Valley have won each of their five games with ease, and in three of those matches have scored more than 110 points.
As the top qualifiers, Hutt Valley and Town now go straight to the semifinals, while Wellington College meet Mana and Onslow face Tawa in the quarterfinals this weekend.
Wellington Girls' and St Oran's have been the top qualifiers in the girls' premier competition and go direct to the semfinals.
Defending champions Hutt Valley meet Aotea in one quarterfinal on Friday, with Newlands taking on Sacred Heart.
- The Dominion Post
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