Saints go purple to highlight disease
The Wellington Saints wore a one-off purple uniform on Friday night to assist the Motor Neurone Disease Association of New Zealand.
Longtime Saints chairman Justin Toebes has been suffering from the disease since December 2012 and was told in the middle of last year not to expect to live past 2016.
But he has done more than that, seeing in 2017 and still attending Saints home games in his electric wheelchair.
‘‘I’ve had a much longer journey than expected,’’ Toebes said.
‘‘I’ve had it for 41⁄ years, so I wasn’t expecting this long.
‘‘I’m still going to the games and really enjoy it, some of the games haven’t been as exciting or tense as they could be or should be, but the team is going really well and they’ve had really good crowds.’’
To honour both his 25-year contribution to the organisation, and to raise funds for, and awareness of, the association, the Saints wore the special uniforms against the Supercity Rangers on Friday night at TSB Bank Arena.
The uniforms will be auctioned off on Trade Me, donations were taken on the night and there was a special presentation at halftime when Toebes was presented with a special framed purple jersey by Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare.
Toebes described the shirt fundraiser as a ‘‘fantastic gesture’’ in keeping with how well the Saints are run. ‘‘One of the joys of my life is basketball and especially the Saints, it’s a fantastic organisation, always very ambitious, clever and successful, and this is one of the reasons why.
‘‘They care about people and I know that’s a fact from talking to players and coaches over decades really.
‘‘It’s a team that has always cared for what it wants to achieve, but also cared for the people in it.’’
This season’s Saints are 11-0, having reached a level of play which Toebes felt was the best he had seen of any Saints team.
‘‘It’s almost like an Australian National Basketball League team when you look at it. People like Shea Ili who plays in a role for the Breakers, but here he’s free to express himself and do what he wants. Josh [Duinker] has been really effective and I haven’t even mentioned Corey [Webster], when he’s on he’s just unstoppable really.’’
All going well, Toebes hoped the team would bring home title number 10 for the organisation, which could possibly be the last one he gets to see.
The Saints continued their winning run on Friday beating the Supercity Rangers 98-87.
(Corey Webster 37 points, Tai Wesley 17, Josh Duinker 12)
87 (Mitch McCarron 18 points, Lindsay Tait 17, Dillon Boucher 14). 1Q: 23-12; HT: 47-40; 3Q: 75-61
Wellington Saints 98 Rangers Supercity
Wellington Saints chairman Justin Toebes was honoured on Friday night.