Player reach­ing his goal

Ef­fort leads to se­lec­tion

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By JAMES GREEN­LAND

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.’’

Photo: JAMES GREEN­LAND

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.

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