Right on the ball

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

New Zealand’s fu­ture bas­ket­ball stars will emerge from Porirua if Frank Mul­vi­hill has any­thing to do with it.

The ex-Saints and Tall Blacks player, and former Saints coach, is de­ter­mined to lift the stan­dard of Porirua’s bas­ket­ball teams, and is al­ready well on the way with his un­der-13 squad. They’re the first Porirua team ever to qual­ify for New Zealand’s U13 national cham­pi­onships af­ter win­ning the lower North Is­land qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ment in Au­gust.

The team of 11 and 12-year-old boys were un­beaten in the tour­na­ment, de­feat­ing Hawke’s Bay 74-56 in the fi­nal.

‘‘That was a hard, hard tour­na­ment,’’ Mul­vi­hill says. ‘‘ I was re­ally proud of how they played 100 per cent and re­ally hard the whole time.’’

Aside from their skills, the boys be­haved with hu­mil­ity and were team play­ers through­out the tour­na­ment. ‘‘They’ve kind of grown from boys into young men,’’ Mul­vi­hill says.

Nerves didn’t get the bet­ter of the squad, but they did af­fect their coach. ‘‘I was more ner­vous send­ing these guys in than play­ing for New Zealand.’’

Still, it will be hard work and ded­i­ca­tion they’ll need in the na­tion­als on Oc­to­ber 17 to 21 in Napier. Un­der­dogs Porirua are in a pool with Waitakere, a tough team to beat, he says.

‘‘Our goal would re­ally be to get into the top eight.’’

The squad of 12 has trained three nights a week since March, per­fect­ing their drib­bling and shoot­ing skills and learn­ing key plays. The team ‘‘got smashed’’ in last year’s qual­i­fy­ing round, which spurred Mul­vi­hill to im­pose strict dis­ci­pline this year.

‘‘I said, this year we’re go­ing to do it prop­erly,’’ he says. ‘‘First game to last game was like black and white.’’

Most of the boys will grad­u­ate to un­der-15 level next year, so Mul­vi­hill will open a team for them. He hopes to bump up their skills and com­mit­ment fur­ther by tak­ing them to Mel­bourne, ‘‘the mecca of bas­ket­ball in Aus­tralia’’, as part of a sis­ter city-type ar­range­ment. He also plans to rope in his Saints bud­dies to lead some work­shops.

Fu­ture stars: Porirua’s un­der-13 bas­ket­ball squad emerged un­beaten cham­pi­ons at a re­cent re­gional tour­na­ment. Coach Frank Mul­vi­hill is pic­tured in the cen­tre.

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