Right on the ball
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.