Tokoroa basketballers shooting for the top
Steven Adams is the man of the moment when it comes to basketball but in a few years it could be Christian Vano and Caelys-paul Putoko.
After catching the eye of Basketball New Zealand scouts the Tokoroa eleven-year-olds have been selected to take part in the 2017 Under 14 National Talent Programme Camp which will be held in Rotorua over four days from April 26.
The focus of the camp, which will feature 80 boys from throughout New Zealand up to the age of 13, will be to introduce and expose them to national team philosophies, pathway preparation, and performance standards required at national level. A separate girls camp will also be held.
Based on their performance 11 players will then be selected to tour Australia as a New Zealand team.
While such camps have been held in the past for older age groups, it is the first time Basketball New Zealand is holding one for the younger players.
Christian, who trains three times a week with his father and coach Christian Vano senior, said it was good to see their hard work was paying off.
‘‘It’s really good and exciting that we well be training for a New Zealand team and our friends have been encouraging us to train real hard out to try and make the squad,’’ he said.
Unbeknown to the boys they were spotted and selected for the camp during an under 13 tournament in Auckland last year which they were playing in as part of the Central Country Basketball Association rep team.
Te Awamutu’s Patrick Milgate and former Tokoroa based Tzar Tmiler, who has since moved Masterton, were also part of the team and have also been selected for the camp.
‘‘We didn’t expect it, we were shocked,’’ Christian said.
The boys have been training over the holidays well aware they will be competing against older players to make the squad.
Caelys-paul, who has been playing basketball for three years, said they both hoped to one day be professional players.
‘‘You can get somewhere with basketball and if you play professionally you could make a lot of money,’’ he said.
As to what makes them so good Christian and Caelys-paul said it was a mix of good ‘‘dribbling, shooting, speed, and a little bit of defence’’.
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Christian Vano and Caelys-paul Putoko have impressed Basketball New Zealand scouts.