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Gisborne basketball shoots on

BASKETBALL.

Gisborne club basketball fans wish they had a four-court stadium.

The sport's burgeoning popularity in 2021 will see both the women's and boys' secondary schools grade and the 18-team men's league keep the same times tonight: 5.30pm, 6.30pm, 7.30pm.

The women are stationed at the YMCA, with Turanga playing SE Systems in Game 1 to be followed by the Masters against Manu Toa, and three-time defending champions Ngati Porou will meet Ritana Toa of Lytton High School in a replay of last year's A Grade final.

The Boys' Secondary Schools' Grade will run at the John McFarlane Memorial Sports Centre, Gisborne Boys' High School. Game 1 is an all-GBHS affair — Junior A v Senior B — to be followed by the Campion College Juniors v GBHS Junior B. Lytton High School's clash with the Campion Cougars, under their second-year captain Robert Fysh, is Game 3.

Tomorrow night the 5.30pm, 6.30pm, 7.30pm times apply equally to the men's Premier Grade at the YMCA and men's B Grade at the Sports Centre.

At the YMCA, the David Glendenning-coached Boys' High Senior A team will take on the 6'7 Stefan Pishief and his Massive Marauders before new club the Raiders, to be led by Willie Brown, face master marksman Scott Muncaster's City Lights. The 2020 A Grade champions SE Systems, under former GBA President Adrian Sparks, have an 8.30pm date with Green up. At the helm for Green up is Tyrese Tuwairua-Brown, a thrilling talent to make defenders' heads spin.

Four teams will make their B Grade debut tomorrow night: the Bibs v Hustler will open proceedings, KKMT and The Shed will close the evening. Old Surfers and the Gizzy Gilas will grace the court in Game 2.

The Gisborne Basketball Association Committee chaired by Kylie Turuwhenua-Tapsell has worked around the clock for a week to confirm entries, firm up competition rules, educate, certify and appoint referees, including some young officials.

“We've had not just an amazing number of registrations but feedback that teams can't wait to play: they've been shooting at the YMCA, at any available location in and outside the city, playing games against each other for a month or more,” said Turuwhenua-Tapsell. “We've worked hard on the logistics, I'm proud of the huge effort that our volunteers have made to facilitate these four leagues.”

The men's competition, split into the Premier Grade, B Grade and Boys' Secondary Schools Grade spread over Monday-Tuesday, and the women's league on Monday nights, will all be played over the next 15 weeks in four eight-minute quarters with the game-clock to stop throughout.

A win is worth three points, a draw is worth two, with no overtime being allowed until the quarterfinals, and a loss one point. No competition points will be awarded in the first two weeks of all grades. The three men's grades will thereafter play two rounds of five weeks (before a two-week break for the Term 2 school holidays), quarter-finals on August 17, semi-finals and Grand Final on Tuesday, August 31.

The women will play for two weeks starting from tonight without points being awarded, with six games a round as there are seven teams, But even now there is a possibility of a mystery eighth team yet to be confirmed.

The Raiders contain three players from Lytton High School's legendary Ritana Bulls team of the early to mid-1990s — Chad Rose, Raiders' player-coach Billy Maxwell and, after a three-year hiatus, legendary big man Dale Hailey.

Raiders' Siaki Tui said: “We have a few vets and this is pretty much it for us. There's no tomorrow. Our goal is to win the title earlier this year. Second place isn't good enough.”

The draw for this week's games —

TODAY

Women's competition, Round 1, Week 1, YMCA —

5.30pm: Turanga v SE Systems.

6.30pm: Masters v Manu Toa.

7.30pm: Ngati Porou v Ritana Toa.

Men's competition, boys' secondary schools division, Round 1, Week 2, John McFarlane Memorial Sports Centre, Gisborne Boys' High School —

5.30pm: GBHS Junior A v GBHS Senior B.

6.30pm: Campion College Juniors v GBHS Junior B.

7.30pm: Lytton High School v Campion Cougars.

TOMORROW

Premier Grade, men's competition, Round 1, Week 1, YMCA —

5.30pm: GBHS Senior A v Massive Marauders.

6.30pm: Raiders v City Lights.

7.30pm: SE Systems v Green up.

B Grade, Men's competition, Round 1, Week 2, John McFarlane Memorial Sports Centre, Gisborne Boys' High School —

5.30pm: The Bibs v Hustler.

6.30pm: Old Surfers v Gizzy Gilas.

7.30pm: KKMT v The Shed.

LOADING UP: Pure Sound’s Dale Hailey shoots as East Coast’s Brandon Paul (left) and Drae Calles apply pressure in this 2017 file picture of club basketball action. Hailey is returning to the court with Raiders this season.Picture by Paul Rickard