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Big test for Nelson trio

JONATHAN MCKEOWN
Last updated 13:00 07/01/2014

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A basketball tour to start the new year is also the start of a potentially life-long basketball journey.

Nelson age-grade players were due to leave for Albury, Australia, today to represent their New Zealand development teams at the 2014 Australian Country Cup.

Holly Chandler will play for the women's under-18 development team, while Amiee Book will play at the under-16 level and Olivia Avery at the under-14 level.

The trio were selected following national talent camps in Auckland late last year.

At the camps Mitchell Raine was selected for the men's under-18 development team and Lauryn Hippolite for the girls' under-16 but both are unable to attend. Chelsea Neame made the national under-16 girls' team that will compete in the Australian State Champs being held in Geelong in July.

Olivia said to play in Australia is an opportunity she hopes to slam dunk because it could set her on a successful path.

"I suppose this is the start of our basketball career, because if they know us now then they will get to know us better," Olivia said, who caught the coaches' eye with a tournament team performance at the national finals in Dunedin last year.

"It is a good start to the year, but - and this is going to sound really deep - it is also the start of a lifetime.

"It was pretty exciting when I found out, but I have been going through phases where I get nervous, excited and a little bit apprehensive about it."

The girls said that having the holidays to practice has allowed them to train a lot harder and with fewer commitments to take up their time.

"I've been working a lot on shooting and strength work . . . rough, like the Aussies will play," Holly said. "I've been trainingtwice a day and running every second day, working on my fitness."

Amiee said it had been also been easy to train over the holidays because many of the other sports she participates in take up time during the school year.

"I'm looking forward to playing against Australia to see how different they are from playing New Zealanders," Amiee said.

"I'm also looking forward to meeting new people, the other people in the New Zealand team."

The touring party meet in Auckland before flying to Australia.

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- The Nelson Mail

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