There is plenty of teenage talent on show at the Sal’s NBL 18IN18 and a number of the young players have already demonstrated their potential.
A Fast Five minute read will bring you up to speed with some of the rising stars in New Zealand basketball.
On opening night ETCO Auckland Dream guard Arielle Williams-Mackey showed great confidence knocking down the game winning shot to ward off the Waikato Wizards.
The 18-year old had missed all of her six previous efforts from beyond the arc but had no hesitation in pulling the trigger with 7.5 seconds to play.
The following night, when the result was still in doubt, Williams-Mackey made 8 points in the final 100 seconds of the game to finally see off Canterbury Wildcats.
Dream forward Sharne Robati (19 years) was also impressive in the opening two games. Across the two contests the former Junior Tall Fern averaged 18.5 points and 7.5 rebounds playing a team high 58 minutes.
Also logging sizeable minutes was Waikato Wizards point guard Alana Paewai (pictured). The 16-year old playmaker logged 23 minutes against the Dream making two of her four shots and impressively snaring 6 rebounds and 3 steals as well as dishing 4 assists.
Also performing well in the backcourt for the Wizards is Jayze’lee Waihi. The U17 Nationals MVP for the past two years made a triple with 58 seconds to play in overtime in what proved to be the game breaker against the Wildcats on Wednesday. Waihi scored 14 points on the night making 3 from 5 from beyond the arc.
Lilly Taulelei, the youngest player at 18IN18 understandably looked nervous on her Capital swish debut against the Wildcats. However the following night against Platinum Homes Harbour Breeze she looked far more comfortable with the pace and physicality of the NBL. The U15 National Championship MVP contributed just 2 points but held her own in the paint pulling down 4 rebounds.
Fellow Kapura Capital Swish forward Paris Lokotui is far more experienced than Taulelei having played New Zealand age group basketball for New Zealand. The 19-year old former Queen Margaret College standout has averaged 12.5 points, 10.5 rebounds in her first two outings.
Breeze wing Jess Moors has made an impressive start to her NBL career. The 17-year old is in her final year at Westlake Girls High School but showed no nerves in her debut against Capital Swish. Her enthusiastic defence yielded 7 rebounds and a pair of steals. Afforded more minutes against Otago Gold Rush, Moors came up with 4 points, 2 steals, 2 blocks and a mighty 12 rebounds.
18-year old Millie Knight has made an encouraging start to her Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats career. The Rangi Ruru school product came up with 4 points and 4 rebounds on debut against the Dream and fared even better in her second outing with another 4 points plus 6 rebounds a steal and a block against the Swish.
Despite it being her NBL debut Firebrand Otago Gold Rush Head Coach Gavin Briggs had the confidence to thrust Te Araroa Sopoaga into the starting line-up against the Breeze.
The Cook Island international responded in style posting 8 points, 5 points and 7 assists – the most dimes posted by any player at 18IN18 so far this season.
Photo credit: PhotosportNZ