The West Australian

STAR WA JUNIORS ON TRACK TO THE NBL

- JOSH GARLEPP

WA’s U18 basketball team hasn’t attracted much attention yet but after their fairytale national championsh­ip win in Werribee, the spotlight is sure to follow.

WA coach David Cooper now has three gold medals in as many national U18 tournament appearance­s, having previously won gold with WA in 2018 with a team that included Perth Wildcats pair Wani Swaka Lo Buluk and

Luke Travers as well as Melbourne AFL footballer Luke Jackson.

This year’s winning side contained no junior level Australia representa­tives. But with a gold medal comes plenty of interest for players on the verge of profession­al careers.

“It’s not that surprising that they haven’t had the opportunit­y to go above and beyond in a Basketball Australia sense because of COVID-19 and our location but I think when you get results like this, that will suddenly change,” BWA high performanc­e manager David Naylor said.

“There will hopefully be an Australian basketball developmen­t camp held later on this year and based upon performanc­es this week there will be at least a handful of WA boys heading across to that.

“The peak period for these guys’ exposure has been during COVID-19.

“At U16s we finished 6th or 7th and were on the radar for BA but then COVID happened and being isolated in WA, there’s not a lot of exposure for coaches to assess talent.

“There’s a couple of them with NBL-type futures on their horizon.”

Two early losses for the eventual champions meant a hard route to the title, knocking off Queensland South, Victoria Metro and the ACT — each opponent having one or multiple scholarshi­p holders in BA’s Centre of Excellence at the AIS in Canberra — to earn a grand final start.

 ??  ?? WA Metro’s victorious U18 boys after claiming the gold medal in Werribee.
WA Metro’s victorious U18 boys after claiming the gold medal in Werribee.

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