Coaches right at home
If anyone knows how Te Rauparaha Arena plays as a basketball venue, it should be Deslea Wrathall and Paxman Taurima.
The Porirua-based duo have lent their local knowledge as the coach (Wrathall) and assistant coach of the New Zealand Maori women’s side, which has been taking part in the Oceania championships at the arena. The tournament wraps up tomorrow. Men’s and women’s teams from Australia, Fiji, Tahiti, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Guam and New Caledonia have been competing. Wrathall is a vastly experienced coach. She recently coached the Junior Tall Blacks before being appointed the Maori women’s team coach in July for two years.
She nominated Laykin Paenga, who is still at Mana College, as one player to look for, and said her Maori team had plenty of skills, but needed time together.
‘‘’Three of them have turned out for the Tall Ferns and it’s [the Oceania championships] a great chance for them to be looked at [by the national selectors].’’
Taurima and Wrathall said holding the tournament in Porirua was a shot in the arm for the sport in the city and local economy.
‘‘It’s huge. Plenty of money comes into Porirua due to this,’’ Wrathall said.
‘‘ Where possible we’ve used local services and accommodation.
‘‘ The sport continues to grow in Porirua, especially among the juniors.’’
Wrathall said she had seen basketball stadiums around the world and that Te Rauparaha Arena was ‘‘as good, if not better’’ than most as a basketball venue.
Porirua was the second smallest basketball association in Wellington, but often topped regional and national senior and junior competitions, she said.
Coaching and having willing volunteers made all the difference, Wrathall said.