Jr Nba. Wrap Up!
What a week! There have been a million phrases used to describe the incredible experience the Jr. NBA organised, but none of them truly sum it up! For Eltham Wildcats to be involved was truly an honour, and certainly something no-one who was a part of it will ever take for granted.
The team is now either headed home or to various parts of America as they make the most of being halfway across the globe. On the final day, they enjoyed being a part of a star studded closing ceremony and watching the two World Championship Finals up close. For the record, both the girls and boys sections were won by the American Central Division, with the teams based in Kansas City. The boys defeated Africa & Middle-East in a game that could have gone either way, with foul trouble from the international side being one of the main deciding factors. In the girls, Europe was less competitive, going down by 30 points in the end.
As previously mentioned it is hard to put into words the experience the boys had and how grateful they all are for it, but we will try!
The boys were successful on the court, finishing with 3 wins and 3 very competitive losses. As always they represented the Wildcats and the Aussie brand of basketball fantastically well. Every second on the court was played with energy, passion, focus and sportsmanship, a ‘never say die’ attitude that has been developed with this team since the coaching team first took them in last years VJBL season.
Despite their success on the court it almost seems secondary to all the positive experiences surrounding the games. Socialising with their peers from all over the world, meeting NBA players, being treated like a professional athlete, everything they could of wanted out of this trip was offered to them and eaten up by our players and staff.
It is important to remember that our boys did ‘earn’ this trip by their hard work all of last season and eventual success in last year’s National tournament. Their work ethic started then and continued in the preparation of the tournament with diligence in training and sacrifices in other areas of life.
Of course, it is not just the players who deserve recognition for their work and attitude during this journey. The families who support them, driving them to up to 5 training sessions and 2 games a week (more in the lead-up), allowing the coaches to coach and the players to play. Bringing the energy from the stands is also something this parent and sibling group is certainly not lacking in, with various teams from across the world commending the Asia Pacifc representatives on their vocal but positive encouragement from the bleachers. It would be amiss not to personally thank Tania Weddle for all her work as Team Manager, while she wasn’t on the bench in an official manager during the tournament, everyone involved in the team knows how much work she does for the team and how valuable she is.
Then there are the coaches, who are volunteering their time to be with this team . Craig Stratford, Carly Stones and Amy Vine were key to this teams success on the court, but perhaps more importantly they developed a culture within the team of unity and teamwork. This can be seen in their speeches to the boys but also just in their general day to day interactions. They are great role models for all junior Wildcats. In saying that their on court tactics, scouting and game knowledge is absolutely first class and shone on the world stage, so we would hate to downplay that!
There is a long list of other people who it is important we acknowledge. A big thanks to Renee Narcis and the Basketball Australia team in general who did a lot of work during the week and a ton of organising prior. CEO Greg Jeffers who did a lot of the groundwork to get Eltham involved in the first place, and for helping Eltham in a position to field successful teams as we have excelled in the past couple of years. Carlos Barocca, the Asia Pacific Jr. NBA representative, who was a great support for the team, and someone who has a refreshingly positive and inclusive mindset towards basketball in general.
We’d also like to thank Tracey Wightman for her work with the team prior to the event, ensuring hey we’re physically ready.
There are plenty of people pivotal to the event who I am sure we have forgotten so we deeply apologise if this is the case!
Our sponsors: Scott Nugent- Jellis Craig North East Tom Kurtschenko – Jellis Craig Max Kirwan Mazda Air Fusion Heating and Cooling Subway Eltham SPORTFIRST (Eltham, Victoria, Australia) CoachNick Business Coaching
Who have all gone to great lengths to support the Wildcats in numerous ways, without them we wouldn’t be in the position we are today.
Of course the Jr. NBA and NBA for their vision. Such a professionally run event which had a real focus on providing the best experience possible for the teams involved. We couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity.
Finally, at the closing ceremony the teams captain won an award that sums up this group and the Wildcats as a whole. Harry Stones was presented the ‘community’ award in front of NBA Star Dwyane Wade and the Commissioner of the NBA Adam Silver amongst others. While the award was an individual one, presenter Bo Outlaw mentioned that it was deserved by the whole of the group. Their play on the court, their work at the community service event and the general attitude of the whole contingent was represented in the award. It was really fitting and a symbolic illustration of what this team and what the Wildcats are about. Congratulations to Harry for the award, as captain of the team you are a great symbol for what they are about and the culture of the team.
Below are some photos of the teams time in Orlando from various events. We hope you have enjoyed our updates, thank you for following from home and Go Wildcats!
– all summaries including this one, written by Connor Matthews, Operations Officer for Eltham Wildcats Basketball Club who was onsite in Orlando.
Vicki Ward MP for Eltham Nick McGowan – Liberal for Eltham Basketball Australia Basketball Victoria Nillumbik Shire Council Banyule City Council Diamond Valley Leader