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.

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