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Time to shoot hoops

BASKETBALL.

Basketball has taken centre stage.

The men's National Basketball League is the only semi-professional league now running worldwide — yesterday it was confirmed that the Government will put $500,000 into both the men's and women's NBL — and the fastest-growing code in New Zealand is about to bounce back locally in a big way.

“We're ready across the board — for club ball, age-group ball, everything,” Gisborne Basketball Association chairman Dwayne Tamatea said.

“We have things in place and they're all about to come together.”

On Sunday the Rising Stars programme will run from 9am to 9.45am at Ilminster Intermediate School. This is a programme for boys and girls under nine years of age wanting to learn or practise basketball skills such as co-ordination, balance and ball-handling.

Following that will be age-group clinics for the under-11s (born in 2009/10) from 10am to 11.30am, the u13s (born in 2007/08) from 11.45am to 1.15pm, and the u15s (born in 2005/06) from 1.30pm to 3pm).

The only requirements for attendance are “a full drink bottle, ears open and a ready-to-learn attitude”.

Basketballs for the free age-group sessions at Ilminster will be supplied by the Gisborne Basketball Association.

In related news, the 2020 Basketball New Zealand Under-13 Central Regional Championships will be held in Hawke's Bay from October 7 to 10.

The biggest women's club league in GBA history will start on Monday, July 27 with six A Grade teams, and six B Grade teams playing at 5.45pm, 6.45pm and 7.45pm. July 27 will be for “warm-up” games.

After that will be a five-week round robin, then quarterfinals, semifinals and — on Monday, September 21 — the women's final.

The same times, grade system and number of teams will apply for the men from Tuesday, July 28, with the grand final on Tuesday, September 22.

Last season, men's A Grade defending champions City Lights beat Gisborne Boys' High School Red 83-81 in the closest high-scoring grand final in GBA history. Campion College won the men's B Grade with an 83-30 clinic against Lytton High School. Ngati Porou won the women's title (then a single-grade competition), beating 2018 champions Lytton High School 56-40.

Gisborne Boys' High fielded three teams in the six-team B Grade last year and it is expected that junior high school teams will feature in the B Grade again this season.

The venues for both A Grade and B Grade men's and women's leagues have yet to be confirmed.

But regardless, a man who's won five of the six grand finals he's played in has his sights set on the big one — even before opening night.

That man is City Lights captain Scott Muncaster.

“We're going for back-to-back titles again,” said Muncaster, who led all scorers in the 2019 grand final with 34 points.

“We'll play our brand of ball, find ways to win, have fun doing it.”

City Lights' Ryan Walters (left) tries to block the shot of Gisborne Boys' High School Red's Ofa Tauatevalu in the A Grade men's final that City Lights won 83-81. Pictures by Paul Rickard
Tiara Weir, of Ngati Porou, goes for the lay-up as Kiara Swannell, of Lytton High School, prepares to contest any rebound. Ngati Porou won 56-40.