Former St Kevin’s College student Hamish Robertson returned from the Mainland Eagles Basketball Academy tour of the United States on Christmas Eve with his team recording a respectable nine wins and seven losses.
The Mainland Eagles Academy is operated by the Canterbury Regional Basketball Foundation with the goal of enabling the best high school basketballers in the South Island to achieve their aspirations of receiving a US College scholarship through the nurturing of their basketball, academic and leadership development.
The team embarked on a punishing schedule of 16 matches which included the coveted Tarkanian Classic competition in Las Vegas.
Following a successful inaugural run in 2012, the Tarkanian Classic is regarded as the premier pre-Christmas tournament with more than 60 teams competing over four divisions and boasts some of the most promising players from around the US.
The Mainland Eagles, who were one of four international sides, competed the the prep division along with 16 other teams.
Mainland had won five fixtures in the lead up to the Tarkanian Classic over Impact Blue, Impact White, Quest Academy, Bishop Gorman High School and Arbor View High School by an average of 25 points.
Despite some sterling displays the Eagles were downed in all five of their Tarkanian Classic ties, losing out to Atlanta’s National Prep 52-65, San Diego Prep 58-62, Nevada’s Trinity Prep 42-85 and Ulm under-20 of Germany 66-72 with the tour concluding in a 80-60 loss to Utah’s Wasatch Prep.
Despite the busy schedule, the Eagles found time to watch the LA Lakers lose out to the New Orleans Pelicans at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The 18-year-old said he embraced a new style of play and the high level of competition while enjoying the strong spirit of camaraderie among the Mainland squad.
“We had nine wins and seven losses, it was a big step up and learning a new style of play,” he said.
“We learnt how to use your strengths and hide your weakness, it was awesome playing against some really good guys.
“It was the best team I’ve ever played for, they’re good guys and good ability, everyone loved it, it was a once in a life time trip.”
By JAMES FORD