By Liam Ellison.
Along with team members from last year in Luke Travers and Lachlan Forrest, Swaka Lo Buluk is confident that their Under-18 form can translate into the Under 20 National Championships.
“We’ve had a couple of months together as a team. We’re looking good so far, our preparations have been good, so I think we have a shot at it again,” he said.
In last year’s Under-18 Championships gold medal game, Swaka Lo Buluk had 16 points and six assists as Western Australia secured a momentous victory, the first U18 title for the state since 2001.
The calendar year of 2018 was a busy one for the WA wing, as he went on to represent Australia at the FIBA Under-17 World Cup in Argentina before becoming the youngest player to hit the court for the Perth Wildcats at just 17 years of age.
That feeling when you get your first NBL basket!
Congratulations, Wani! pic.twitter.com/fF2C8cgXkr
— Perth Wildcats (@PerthWildcats) December 9, 2018
“I still think about that. It was crazy and an amazing achievement.
“It was different because there was 13,000 people in the stands, I’ve never played in front of that many people. Being able to hit the floor for Perth was great.”
Swaka Lo Buluk’s incredible 2018 concluded with an inclusion in the squad for the 2019 FIBA Under-19 World Cup but for now, his sights are set on another Junior Championship gold medal.
“Right now, I’m just focusing on winning the games at Under-20’s first, that’s what I really want to do. We’re going to try and get the gold medal and then I’ll worry about the other stuff later.”
Having spent the past few years with Basketball Australia’s Centre of Excellence (CoE) and the NBA Global Academy, Swaka Lo Buluk is no stranger to the courts of the AIS where this year’s Under-20’s are being held.
His time with both development programs have also helped Swaka Lo Buluk prepare to compete against bigger players as he comes into the Under-20’s as a bottom-ager.
“At a young age, being able to play against guys at the CoE who are now in college helped me physically and mentally. They were stronger and they were a lot faster than me, but now I feel like I’m at that level.”
After Western Australian’s triumph last year, oppositions will be taking Swaka Lo Buluk and the team lightly at their own peril.