Sisters a triple threat on the court
Identical Wellington sisters tough and talentedTIM BARTON
The Pilitati sisters - Dalen, Natasha and Tearii - need only turn up on court to cause confusion in the opposition ranks.
The identical triplets have proved difficult to sort out for their markers and even the referees.
Opponents have often found themselves marking the wrong player, and fouls can be recorded against the wrong sister.
The Newlands College year 10 pupils also present challenges for new team-mates and coaches.
Brian Powell, who coaches the Newlands College senior side, struggled to tell them apart when the triplets joined the team this year and was saved by the fact that they wear different shoes.
"I had to use the shoes initially, but it has became easier as the season went along.
"They each have their little idiosyncrasies.
"But when they are on the far side of the court or down the other end, I sometimes still think which one is that?
The presence of identical triplets is always going to create interest in a sports team, but the Pilitati sisters, who play a variety of sports, also stand out on the score of talent.
They have consistently made Wellington representative teams since taking up basketball and took the next step up the ladder when selected for the national under-16 girls Koru development tour.
The Koru teams will compete at the Australian country junior basketball cup tournament in New South Wales in January.
The Pilitati sisters, who are also in the Wellington under-15 team, usually started for Newlands in the premier secondary schools grade this winter.
"They are very talented," Powell said. "They were competing as 14-year-olds against some very good senior girls and certainly haven't been out of their depth.
"They are a long way from fulfilling their potential and should become standout players at a secondary school level.
"Their basic fundamentals are very strong and they all bring different bits and pieces to the game.
"They can score in so many ways. They dribble well and all have nice mid-range jump shots.
"But their greatest asset is their work ethic," Powell said. "They are always working and working on their game.
"They are lovely young women and would be three of the most dedicated athletes I've had any thing to do with. They are also their own biggest critics. They really are tough on themselves."
The sporting sisters, who turn 15 on New Year's Day, also play softball, volleyball, touch rugby and netball, but all rate basketball as their favourite and they will probably reduce their other sporting commitments to concentrate on basketball.
"I like the speed of the game [basketball]," Tearii said. "It seems more intense than the other sports."
The Koru tour should be an important milestone for the sisters. "I want to use the tour to improve my skills and try to make it to the next level," Dalen said.
The triplets are sometimes bemused that others find it so difficult to tell them apart. "I don't reckon we look alike and I'm taller than Tearii and Dalen," Natasha said.
Wellington under-15 coach Hawea Townsend has been coaching the sisters since 2010. "She [Townsend] brought us into the game," Tearii said.
Townsend mainly plays the trio as guards. "They work well together and really understand their jobs on the court," Townsend said.
The triplets also avoid competing against each other. "They always trial for different positions, which means they don't compete against each other," their mother, Rikki Pilitati, said.
"They support each other, but sometimes one or two of them don't make a team, depending on who else is competing for their positions. But they always want at least one of them to make it.
"Their competition is with their [older] sister Aysha.
"Whatever Aysha played, her sisters have played. Aysha did well and they want to do better."
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- © Fairfax NZ News
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