Player reaching his goal
Effort leads to selection
Petelo Louis Leaupepe is realising his basketball hoop dreams after years spent on the sideline.
The Grenada North 12- year- old warmed the bench for Wellington’s under-13 representative boy’s basketball team last year but hard work and perseverance has earned him a starting-five spot and selection for the New Zealand under-14 side.
The Clifton Terrace Model School student joined Wellington’s Hoop Club seven years ago on the advice of his parents after he accepted he was too small to continue playing rugby.
‘‘I was way better [at basketball] than I was at rugby,’’ he said.
‘‘I like how fast the game goes, and the intensity.’’
Leaupepe plays point guard or shooting guard – positions that require ball skills, co-ordination and the ability to lead other players.
Last year he was the youngest player selected for the Wellington under-13 representative side. He did not get much more than two or three minutes on the court per game but lack of playing time didn’t dampen the rookie’s enthusiasm.
He continued to practise, improving his skills and knowledge of the game through regular individual training and listening to the advice of others.
Leaupepe worked closely with Wellington basketball’s Peter Gosnell, who coached him through extra one-on-one morning sessions.
He and the other coaches taught the young player how to control the ball, run the plays, and settle things down during high intensity moments.
All that extra effort paid off for Leaupepe when he was named in the New Zealand under-14 boys’ basketball team this year.
‘‘I played my hardest at regionals and the coaches saw that I could play,’’ he said.
‘‘I was confident that I had played well and might make it but I was still a little bit surprised.’’
Leaupepe said his family, friends and coaches had all played a part in his success.
Gosnell said he was impressed with the work ethic and determination shown by his charge.
‘‘Young players in a team don’t get much court time – the coach is always on their case because they have to perform at the same level as the others.
‘‘He has really earned his stripes and is doing the right things. Where he is at now is a credit to his perseverance.’’
Impressive effort: Petelo Louis Leaupepe, 12, of Grenada North has been selected for the New Zealand under-14 basketball team after he persevered on the bench as a Wellington rookie.