More than 400 talented young basketball players from all corners of the country will converge in Brisbane this week to compete in the 2023 Foot Locker Under-18 National Championships & Kevin Coombs Cup.
The Championships will be held across two locations in Brendale and Zillmere from 8-16 April and will showcase 30 teams competing in the Boy's Girl's, and Kevin Coombs Cup (wheelchair) competitions, with a total of 119 games scheduled over eight action-packed days.
With Rocco Zikarsky towering in at 7'2 and the Polynesian powerhouse Roman Siulepa in their ranks, Queensland South is determined to continue their winning streak in the Under-18 Boy's competition, buoyed by the support of their home crowd. Meanwhile, Victoria Metro poses a significant threat, with the likes of Luke Fennell, a talented guard who commenced a scholarship at the elite NBA Global Academy earlier this year.
In the Girl’s competition, Victoria Metro will be vying to reign supreme once again, boasting an impressive line-up that includes the imposing presence of Sarah Portlock, who stands tall at 6’7, and Manuela Puoch, younger sister of Southside Flyers' star rookie, Nyadiew Puoch.
The Kevin Coombs Cup will add an extra layer of excitement to the National Championships as it features the best junior wheelchair basketball players hailing from Queensland, Western Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia.
Basketball Australia’s competition manager Sarah Monck said she was looking forward to kicking off the second National Championships of the year.
“I’m really excited for the Under-18 National Champs and Kevin Coombs Cup to begin, it’s a huge event for young athletes from all over the country to come together to play some quality basketball and represent their state at the highest level.
“The talent we see at these types of events reflects the exceptional work that the coaches and State programs are doing to develop basketball across the country.
“These kids that are coming through the ranks are the future of Australian basketball, and it’s incredibly exciting to watch them play at this level and see the potential they hold for a career in the sport.”
The gifted athletes are poised to seize a golden opportunity to showcase their skills for scouts who will be on the lookout for Australia’s next top basketballers to take their talents to the next level, following in the footsteps of Maree Jackson, who also has the Girl’s championship trophy named in her honour.
Winning two Under-18 Championships in 1971 and 1972, Jackson’s performances helped her earn a scholarship at Louisiana State University. Accepting the offer, she became the first Australian female basketballer to head to a U.S. college, blazing a trail for future generations.
Monck highlighted the success of Australian-born basketballers such as Georgia Amoore (Virginia Tech) and Tyrese Proctor (Duke University), who have taken the college basketball world by storm.
“These events offer great opportunities for the athletes to demonstrate their on-court abilities and potentially follow a similar path of these brilliant players,” Monck added.
The level of the competition will ramp up with the pool games held over the first five days which will lead into the quarterfinals starting on Friday, April 14.
Things will intensify on Saturday, April 15 with the semi-finals setting the stage for the championship games and closing ceremony on Sunday, April 16, marking the end of the eight-day event.