UNDER-18 CHAMPIONSHIPS AND KEVIN COOMBS CUP PREVIEW- WA
Under-18 Men’s Western Australia Country Team List: Justyn Beattie, Liam Bennett, Riley Fitzgerald, Josh Hunt, Alastair Ishigami-Sims, Cousteau Kyle, Johny Narkle, Shamus Trainor, Keanu Weeden, Braden Wilson.
The nature of WA Country teams is that their athletes come from a wide-ranging area and this year, the team is made up of players from as far north as Geraldton, as south as Albany and as far out as Kalgoorlie.
“Distance is always a difficult thing to deal with but they always do a good job when they come together,” said Basketball WA High Performance Manager, Brett Coxsedge.
“This side has had four or five sessions as a team but they usually only get together once a month if they’re lucky which can be tough. It’s a young group with a fair bit of inexperience but we know they are going to battle and compete hard each game.”
WA Country should expect to be able to match teams in the front court with some significant size courtesy of 202cm Justyn Beattie as well as Riley Fitzgerald who gets his chance to show off on a national stage after impressing in the WA SBL.
At the Under-16’s last year, Alastair Ishigami-Sims finished fourth overall for assists while adding 10.4 points per game and he will power their offence alongside Shamus Trainor who averaged 14 points per game at the same tournament.
Liam Bennett will bulk up their perimeter defence as someone who can read the play better than most while Cousteau Kyle is coming off a strong Basketball WA Country Champs earlier this year.
Under-18 Men’s Western Australia Metro Team List: Travis Fee, Lachlan Forrest, Derek Igbenoba, Luke Jackson, Connor Mincherton, Adrian Nobensi, Wani Swaka Lo Buluk, Matthew Teale, Luke Travers, Kane Waters.
With three members of the recent FIBA Asian Championship gold medal winning team for Australia hailing from WA Metro, Coxsedge deservedly has high hopes for the men this year.
“This is a very talented group and WA Metro took home the bronze medal at the Under-18’s two years ago so we are hoping they can again carry the flag. It will be exciting to see the team come together at this tournament as they have mostly risen through the ranks together,” he said.
Those three national representatives are Wani Swaka Lo Buluk (also a member of the NBA Global Academy that train out of the Centre of Excellence), Luke Jackson and Luke Travers.
Swaka Lo Buluk was one of the stars of the Asian Championships, averaging an equal team-high 14.8 points per game on 44% shooting from the field and 43% from three-point range while Travers showed his ability to influence all areas of the floor with 22 points, eight rebounds, three assists, four steals and two blocks in the gold medal game.
Jackson also impressed, dominating the glass with 8.8 points and 10.8 rebounds per contest with a tournament-high performance of 12 points and 17 boards against Korea and if he can own the paint alongside Travers and 208cm Kane Waters, WA Metro are going to be hard to stop.
They will need to find a balance with their guards though and that will be up to the likes of Connor Mincherton and Travis Fee to not only match their output on the scoreboard but feed the ball inside as well.
Under-18 Women’s Western Australia Country Team List: Georgia Adams, Olivia Bassett Scarfe, Mary Burke, Tayah Burrows, Dana East, Beige Harris, Kayley King, Grace Lawler, Cian Parsons, McKaylah Pomare.
The WA Country women’s team consists of six top-agers and from that group, five are returning from the Under-18’s last year.
“That experience is sure to help them at this tournament and a few have played senior basketball in the WA SBL so they will not be afraid of the occasion,” said Coxsedge.
Tayah Burrows paced them with 9.1 points per game in 2017 and scored in double-digits in each of her last three games once she found her three-point shot.
Grace Lawler added five points per game while Georgia Adams will be a key piece of their side as she stars at both ends of the floor, recording seven points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 2.3 assists (tenth in the competition) per contest in 2017.
Dana East is the shortest player on the roster but her tenacity in the paint is sure to surprise teams after pulling down an average of 7.1 rebounds at last year’s Under-16’s and she will benefit the likes of Cian Parsons and Mary Burke around the rim.
Under-18 Women’s Western Australia Metro Team List: Samantha Ashby, Imogen Ayliffe, Suzi-Rose Deegan, Sophie Doran, Georgia Harding, Claire Jacobs, Caitlyn Jones, Tia Morgan, Natasha Oberman, Nes’eya Williams.
A different looking team to what WA Metro have had in the past, they enter the Under-18’s Championships as a bit of an unknown.
“This team is a little bit younger than usual despite four players returning from last year’s Under-18’s but they will provide a breath of fresh air,” said Coxsedge.
“David Naylor is a new coach as well but he is a great leader and we believe this is a team that can make the Quarter-Finals and from there, anything can happen.”
A Centre of Excellence scholarship holder, Suzi-Rose Deegan will be the main instigator that oppositions need to slow down after she finished second for scoring within the team at last year’s Under-18’s while being just one of just four players to average a double-double in the tournament.
How much help she gets at the defensive end could be the difference-maker in WA Metro’s final standing as they were 3-0 when keeping teams under 70 points last year and 0-4 when they didn’t.
Sophie Doran and Claire Jacobs are strong defenders who combined to tally over 25 steals at last year’s Championships and if a player like Caitlyn Jones can continue her form from the SBL where she is averaging 15.7 points per game this year, they may find a balance that can do some damage.
“The Under-18’s are really important to us in the west as opportunities to compete against the best in Australia come less frequently than most,” said Coxsedge.
“It’s a great chance to get a measuring stick of where we sit against the rest of the country and also provides the athletes with the opportunity to get exposure on the national stage.”
Kevin Coombs Cup Team List:
Christopher Bonilla, Andrew Dewberry, Lauren Hardbottle, Joel Herbert, Mary Friday, Angus Johnston, Thomas McHugh, Benjamin Moncrieff, Frank Pinder.
The inaugural winners of the Kevin Coombs Cup back in 2010, Western Australia have not been able to replicate that success since but with six players currently competing in the National Wheelchair Basketball League (NWBL) and two more in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNWBL), they will back themselves this year.
Thomas McHugh has been a member of the Australia Under-23 Spinners team and will likely lead them at both ends of the floor having averaged four steals per game at last year’s Kevin Coombs Cup as well as 17 points which was good for second in the tournament.
His team mate at the Perth Wheelcats, Andrew Dewberry, averaged 14.9 points per game at 47% shooting while Benjamin Moncrief, Angus Johnston and Frank Pinder have all been members of the Emering Rollers squad.
Mary Friday and Lauren Hardbottle are also team mates in the women’s Perth team which will help with their synergy on court next week.
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