AUSTRALIA - Australian Indigenous Basketball (AIB) have announced its men’s and women’s national representative teams that will compete in the inaugural Four Nations Cup in New Zealand later this month.
The Apunipima AIB All Stars, made up of the country’s foremost men’s and women’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander basketball talent, will travel to Wellington where they will face Indigenous sides New Zealand Maori, Kingdom of Hawaii and Tonga at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua from March 25 to 30.
Fans will see familiar faces on the Apunipima AIB All Stars men’s roster, with veteran’s Deba George, Tyson Demos and Curt Ah Wang joining Cedar brothers, Chris and Michael in the line-up. Gold Coast Rollers QBL big-man Tidjane ‘TJ’ Diop makes his sixth straight All Stars appearance, while promising up-and-comers JaKobe Hunter, Joel Matysek, Verle Williams and William ‘Davo’ Hickey have also been named.
Following an impressive international debut for the All Stars in last years’ Trans-Tasman Series, Melbourne-based swingman Dion Patten has earned another call-up.
Joel Khalu, head coach of the men’s squad said he was confident in his teams’ ability to perform well.
“One of the things that’s helped us to be successful over the past four years has been player leadership,” Khalu said.
“We’ve had some consistency with our veteran guys and they’ve done a great job mentoring the younger players and really building the right culture on and off the court.”
“The guys selected by the national panel in this team, for the most part, have all played together in various events before. That familiarity will benefit us a lot in this tournament.”
The 2019 Four Nations Cup will be the first international competition for the Apunipima AIB All Stars women’s team, since the side got swept 3-0, by New Zealand Maori in the 2017 Trans-Tasman Series.
Newly appointed head coach Ricky Baldwin is confident he can lead a turnaround with the women’s program.
“I believe we have a really talented group of women, who’ll be fiercely competitive when they step on the floor,” Baldwin said.
“It’s going to take commitment and hard work, but I think we can go over to N.Z and win some games.”
Headlining Baldwin’s group is former Olympian and Australian Opals star Rohanee Cox. Joining Cox in the side from Western Australia is Cockburn Cougars forward Vanessa Michael and Perth Lynx WNBL development player Nes’eya Williams.
South Australia is well represented, with Fejo sisters Renai, Tahlia & Jasmin joining Forrestville Eagle, Ambah Kowcun in the side. Tahlia (20) and Jasmin (18) compete for the West Adelaide Bearcats, while oldest sibling Renai (25) is currently on scholarship, playing for Langara College in Canada.
Fresh off winning a silver medal at the recent Basketball Australia under 20 national championships in Canberra, Rebekah Dallinger is the sole representative from New South Wales. Victorian-based players Georgia Baldwin (Knox Raiders) and Tanarly Hood (Casey Cavaliers) round out the team of ten.
Before departing for New Zealand, both teams will have a two-day training camp in Brisbane to fine-tune.
“Two days is not a lot of time when you’re talking about preparation for a major event, but that’s the situation we’re faced with and we’ll do our best to fit in as much learning as possible during that camp,” Coach Baldwin said.
2019 Apunipima AIB Men’s National Team - Four Nations Cup
Chris Cedar – Mackay, QLD
Curt Ah Wang – Cairns, QLD
Deba George – Albury, NSW
Dion Patten – Melbourne, VIC
JaKobe Hunter – Cairns, QLD
Joel Matysek – Cairns, QLD
Michael Cedar – Logan, QLD
Tidjane Diop – Gold Coast, QLD
Tyson Demos – Wollongong, NSW
Verle Williams Jnr. – Brisbane, QLD
William (Davo) Hickey – Sydney, NSW
Head Coach: Joel Khalu
Assistant Coach: Jason Borg
Team Manager: Brent Khalu
2019 Apunipima AIB Women’s National Team - Four Nations Cup
Ambah Kowcun - Forrestville Eagles, SA
Georgia Baldwin - Knox Raiders, VIC
Jasmin Fejo - West Adelaide Bearcats, SA
Nes’eya Williams - Perth Lynx, WA
Rebekah Dallinger - Northern Suburbs Basketball, NSW
Renai Fejo - Langara College, CANADA
Rohanee Cox - Willetton Tigers, WA
Tahlia Fejo - West Adelaide Bearcats, SA
Tanarly Hood - Casey Cavaliers, VIC
Vanessa Michael - Cockburn Cougars, WA
Head Coach: Ricky Baldwin
Assistant Coach: Rebecca McIntyre
Team Manager: Belinda Hayden