The National Under-15 Basketball Tournament kicked off in Wellington yesterday with North Otago and Southland the participants from the southern region.
The North Otago side fancy their chances of going well at the tournament, with half their team having just returned from Australia as part of the Waitaki Basketball Academy.
The side is being coached by Brain de Geest and former Tall Black Mark Dickel who helps with the Waitaki Basketball Academy, stepping in for assistant Ian Cathcart who was unable to travel due to a recent family arrival.
Cathcart just returned from the Waitaki Boys Academy trip to Australia and said he couldn’t afford more time away.
“My wife and I have just a had a baby and it would be asking too much of me to go away again, and Sparky (Mark Dickel) was more than willing to help out.”
With Otago missing out, North Otago were allowed to pick three players from their under-15 side to help strengthen their team.
“We grabbed their three best players to give the side a little bit more depth, because this could help later in the tournament,” he said.
Cathcart was confident the side would do well.
“They’re in quite a tough pool but are looking at a top 8 finish and if they can’t achieve that, then certainly a top 10 finish.”
First up, the side faced Tasman, followed by Central Country, after the Oamaru Mail went to print yesterday.
The side was targeting those matches as must-win games.
“We see them as games that the team can win and we have targeted them,” said Cathcart.
He said he expected big things from Max de Geest and Tom Crutchley.
“Max was there last year with Otago. He is an awesome talent and I expect him to be one of the best players at the tournament and Tom has the chance to show of his potential.”
By BRAYDEN LINDSAY
HIGH FLIERS: The North Otago Under 15 Basketball team at Christchurch airport before they headed to compete in the national championships in Wellington from July 16-19.