Sky Sport Tall Fern Matangiroa Flavell admits to having mixed emotions ahead of the upcoming Schick 3X3 Cup and the Sal’s NBL 18IN18.
“It’s exciting but also daunting as there’s been such a massive break since we last played.”
She played in the Tall Ferns Showcase at the beginning of August but like many of the participating players hasn’t played any other seriously competitive basketball since last year.
“It’s exciting to really get into it again and even just seeing everyone, playing with our team and actually having a good competitive game.
“As I said, it’s daunting because we are having to pack a lot into a short amount of time as It hadn’t been clear what the season would look like or even if anything was going to go ahead.”
Flavell had an extremely successful 2019. Along with helping the Harbour Breeze reach the WBC Grand Final she also made her senior international debut as the Tall Ferns finished runners-up at the 2019 William Jones Cup.
However, a great deal has changed for the 23-year-old since then as she has relocated to Hamilton where she has opened a new business.
“We’ve just opened a new gym and it’s full on. Work has been keeping me very, very busy. With no basketball my whole focus has been on work.
“We are six weeks old since the launch so it’s been a massive journey to this point. I’m the head trainer at the gym which is called ‘The Movement NZ’.
The Movement NZ is a branch of her sister Miria’s clothing brand HINE.
“I was working for her before we opened the gym. We thought about opening a gym a while ago but at the beginning of the year we put some plans in place.
“A lot of the family are also involved with the gym so that’s pretty cool.
Stepping back on to the training court has been a challenge though with all that’s happening with the new venture.
“With us being a brand new gym it’s difficult to allocate the right amount of time to both basketball and business.
“I’m trying to find a line between the two and some other women have commented on that too.
“Not getting paid during our time away means there are a lot of sacrifices but at least it gets us away from work.”
“But we are trying to win a championship so I’m excited.”
Having moved down to Hamilton Flavell has shifted her allegiance from the Breeze to the Waikato Wizards.
The forward admits the transition to 3X3 has been a tad bumpy with her lack of experience in the shortened format.
“I’m new to it. A lot of the girls went to Secondary Schools 3X3 Nationals and other tournaments, but I didn’t have that opportunity.”
However, the experienced Anthony Corban, who has guided New Zealand teams to success at international tournaments, is at the helm of Waikato’s 3X3 programme.
“Corbs [Corban] has so much experience and knowledge and is a huge help guiding the team. There are lots of different rules, different plays, and different tactics in 3X3 so I’m learning along the way.
“We are all quite new to it to be honest but I love it, I really enjoy it.”
Joining Flavell in Waikato colours at the Schick Cup will be Zarya Poulava, Kayla Manuirirangi and Makayla Daysh.
“We’ve been training twice a week with both sessions being 2-3 hours long. Because we have players from out of town we try and compact everything into two trainings rather than having multiple sessions.
“We do a lot of scrimmaging and use players from our wider Wizards team – it’s a really awesome environment as many of the girls have had 3X3 experience. For those of us who haven’t it’s good to be around them and learn.”
The Schick 3X3 Cup is being played from 12-14 November in Invercargill with the Sal’s NBL 18IN18 scheduled to tip-off of the following week (19 November).
For the players, who have had very little game time in the past few months due to COVID-19 restrictions, the schedule is likely to be a challenge.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty crazy. It’s not far away when I look at the calendar and we still have a lot of work to do in preparation.
“But I’m really excited about playing for Waikato, with some good mates. It’s going to be full on.
“It’s cool that BBNZ are making this available to us. We can’t complain as this is exactly what we asked for.”
In a further boost for the game both the Schick 3X3 Cup and the 18IN18 will be broadcast live on Sky Sport.
“Having the games televised is massive for the women’s basketball in New Zealand.
“There is so much to play for, the opportunity to showcase the women’s game and to once again get on the court.
“We watched the men play, now it’s our turn!”