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Giant boost to mini-ball kids

KATE DAVIDSON
Last updated 13:00 06/12/2013
Phill Jones
ALDEN WILLIAMS/Fairfax NZ

RACING AROUND: Former Tall Black and current Nelson Giant, Phill Jones runs through some drills with Victory Primary School year 6 pupils, Ngawai Tia, Reann Elkington and Phoenix Packer.

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The Victory Lakers mini-ball basketball team topped off their victorious season with a one-hour training session with former Tall Black and Nelson Giants player Phill Jones.

Mr Jones, an insurance specialist at ANZ bank, put himself forward for a charity auction as part of the bank's Daffodil Cancer Society fundraiser.

"It's a good cause," he said. "I hope the kids have fun and to get them doing some stuff they hopefully haven't done before."

Mini-ball team members Reann Elkington, Cumorah-lee Aiolupotea, Ngawai Tia, Phoenix Packer, Ariana Herewini, Willow Innes, and Lose Faingaanuku, were chosen for the training session yesterday.

Year 3 pupils from Room 18 joined the year 5 and 6 girls to burn off some early morning energy. They raced from one end of the gym to the other, trying to dodge the basketballers who were chasing them while dribbling basketballs.

Squeals of delight and laughter bounced off the gym walls.

Darian Payne, year 3, managed to be one of the last ones standing at the end of the first round. He said he had fun speeding around the gym dodging the girls.

The girls then worked on shooting hoops.

Team coach Ashleigh Della Bosca said it was exciting for the team to train with Mr Jones.

"All those girls are super talented," she said. There was unanimous excitement from the girls about being "coached by a professional Giants player" and one of their favourite local basketball heroes. They hoped to improve their ball skills.

The training session was donated to the school after Sari and Neil Hodgson from Savage & Savage Chartered Accountants won it in the charity auction. Mr Hodgson said since he was not much of a basketball player these days they thought they should give it away "to a group of kids". Wanting to support their local school, they chose Victory Primary School.

Mr Jones also donated a singlet, which is being framed by his father for free. The Hodgsons plan to donate it to another charity fundraising auction.

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- The Nelson Mail

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