Toko­roa bas­ket­ballers shoot­ing for the top

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - LUKE KIRKEBY

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’’.

To help to­wards fundraising phone 027 500 3376.

LUKE KIRKEBY

Chris­tian Vano and Caelys-paul Pu­toko have im­pressed Bas­ket­ball New Zealand scouts.

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