Young stars on the up and up
Two Taranaki schoolboys are in the mix for this year's Junior Tall Blacks basketball team.
New Plymouth Boys' High School students Dane Brooks and Beauden Giddy spent the last week of their school holidays in Auckland at the Breakers' Academy, trialling with 15 other talented teens for a spot in the 2014 New Zealand under-19 team.
Brooks was a starter for the 2013 New Zealand under-18 team, while Giddy had an outstanding performance at the national under-19 tournament last year to draw the attention of selectors.
The Junior Tall Blacks coach is Judd Flavell, who is also assistant coach for the Breakers.
Last week's camp was held at the Breakers' training centre, with the resurgent team attending one of the training sessions.
Giddy and Brooks had a 15-minute session training with Tom Abercrombie, while the big guys trained with Gary Wilkinson and Kerron Johnson took the point guards.
"We practised turn-outs and coming off screens," said Brooks of the session with Abercrombie. "Then their coach [Dean Vickerman] took us in a three on three drill."
On Thursday night, the Junior Tall Black triallists attended the Breakers' match against the Sydney Kings, helping with the set-up of the game and laying out the playing strips for the Breakers.
Brooks admits he couldn't resist the opportunity to quickly slip on Abercrombie's playing singlet and also Mika Vukona's.
Watching the cheerleaders go through their moves before the game also rated a mention.
Brooks and Giddy are hopeful of playing with the Taranaki Mountain Airs in this year's National Basketball League. The pair have been training with the Mountain Airs over the summer and coach Daryn Shaw said the two were both likely to make the team.
Brooks had a few minutes of game time last year, when he was the youngest player in the NBL, with Shaw saying he would play a bigger role this season.
Brooks has also been invited to trial for the National Youth 3x3 team and will be travelling to a tournament in Tauranga this weekend as part of the selection process.
Giddy says the week trialling has given him more confidence and knowledge on the game, as he got to compete against the top junior players in the country and was trained by the country's top coaches.
He adds that he learnt a lot from the nutritionist who prepared meals for the group and gave them guidance on eating for optimal performance.
The next camp for the Junior Tall Blacks triallists is next month, when the initial squad of 12 will be named.
Taranaki Daily News