INDIGENOUS CULTURES CELEBRATED IN HISTORIC INTERNATIONAL BASKETBALL EVENT

INDIGENOUS CULTURES CELEBRATED IN HISTORIC INTERNATIONAL BASKETBALL EVENT

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA | The 2019 International Indigenous Basketball and Cultural Showcase will take place on Thursday, August 22 in Melbourne, held as a curtain-raiser event prior to the Australian Boomers vs USA Basketball exhibition basketball game at Marvel Stadium.

As a link to the high-profile game between Australia and the United States that tips off at 7:30pm, the inaugural 2019 International Indigenous Basketball and Cultural Showcase will see Australian Indigenous Basketball (AIB) national team’s face-off against visiting Kingdom of Hawai’i (KOH) national representative squads on the Marvel Stadium court at 5:00pm.

In addition to the high-octane hoops action, Indigenous cultures of Australia and Hawai’i will also be celebrated as part of the game-night festivities; a first at the elite level of Australian basketball.

Both Indigenous nations will have their anthem performed in traditional language and respective dancers from each cultural group will also perform on-court.

The game itself will be played in two fifteen-minute halves, with the women’s teams taking the floor for the first period and men’s teams hitting the hardwood for the second stanza.

Joel Khalu, AIB Chief Executive Officer and Head Coach of the men’s national side believed the event created a tremendous platform to unite people in a celebration of culture through sport.

“It’s historic for Australian Indigenous Basketball to deliver an event of this magnitude on the world stage,” Khalu said.

“Basketball-wise, this is certainly the type of contest that could inspire the next Patty Mills, Nathan Jawai, Rohanee Cox or Leilani Mitchell. We want more of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth participating in sports, particularly basketball.”

“When our AIB representative players step out on-court at Marvel Stadium, I’m sure it will be a moment they’ll never forget.

“On behalf of AIB, I would like to thank the major stakeholders involved for this tremendous opportunity - Basketball Australia, USA Basketball, the Victorian Government, along with TEG Live and Marvel Stadium. We also want to thank the Kingdom of Hawai’i for accepting our invitation to participate. I would also like to acknowledge and sincerely thank Patty Mills and his team who have been instrumental in helping make all of this become a reality.”

AIB Ambassador, 3x Olympian, and NBA Champion Patty Mills was thrilled to be a part of these landmark events.

“Maintaining culture and traditions in any family, or society is crucially important. It helps build, develop and mold an individual into who they will eventually become. It forms an identity and will be the core of all values that evolve.

“The coming together of two different Indigenous cultures from around the globe, through today’s popular sport of basketball, is a creative way to keep thousands of years of Indigenous traditions relevant in the rapidly growing modern society.

“As a representative and role model for Indigenous people throughout multiple countries, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the process for this event on the court and also in our community but at this time I would like to thank Basketball. For giving us Indigenous people, the platform and opportunity to encourage our identities and to keep our cultures alive.”

When asked about getting more Indigenous players representing Australia in basketball, Mills said:

“Young Indigenous people need opportunities to be included in programs and pathways specifically designed to acknowledge, support, and encourage cultural diversity for them to prosper and reach their full potential, so that they can represent Australia at the international level.”

Kingdom Of Hawai’i coach Kawika Villa also reiterated his excitement to be a part of the occasion.

“We are ecstatic to be coming to Australia to compete in this level of basketball and cultural showcase for the first time in our program's history,” Villa said.

“We are thankful to all the sponsors and organisers, AIB and Patty Mills for inviting us and for hosting us while we're there.

“We anticipate a tough encounter on the court against the AIB sides, but really look forward to bonding with the players and sharing culture away from the court.”

“As Kanaka Maoli we have the utmost respect for other Indigenous people. We love hearing their stories and songs, seeing their dances, and hearing their language. That connection time and kinship is really what will make our kupuna (ancestors) smile, and that is the most gratifying experience for us, is to honor them in this way.”

Prior to the Thursday night match-up at Marvel Stadium, the two nations will also play games on Tuesday night, August 20 at the State Basketball Centre in Knox. An official launch of AIB and Patty Mills community projects will also be held in Mildura, Victoria on Monday, August 19 along with a Traditional Welcome.

“As a whole, this event is about so much more than just basketball,” Khalu added.

“Each time our AIB men’s and women’s national teams join together in preparation for international games, we make sure that we also conduct significant community engagement that aligns with our strategic priorities and our visit to Mildura is one way in which we will achieve this.”

Tickets to the Australian Boomers vs USA Basketball (7.30pm) on Thursday 22 August, featuring the Australian Indigenous Basketball national tean against Kingdom of Hawai’i (5.00pm) are available from Ticketmaster.

AUSTRALIAN INDIGENOUS BASKETBALL ALL STARS MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM:

Name Current Club Notes
#1 Verle Williams Mackay Meteors (QBL) 21-years old.
#2 Tyson Demos Illawarra Hawks (NSW Waratah League) 216 NBL Games – Gold Coast Blaze and Illawarra Hawks. QBL Championship Winner – 2015
#3 Deba George Albury-Wodonga Bandits (NBL1) 33 NBL Games – Cairns Taipans. QBL Championship Winner – 2009 & 2012
#7 Tamuri Wigness NBA Global Academy 16-years old, currently on scholarship at
the NBA Global Academy in Canberra, Australia. Has represented Australia at the U17 FIBA World Championships, U18 FIBA Asian Championships and FIBA U19 World Championships. Attended the 2019 NBA G- League Showcase in Las Vegas.
#9 William Hickey Melbourne Tigers (NBL1) 20-years old.
#10 Chris Cedar Mackay Meteors (QBL) 88 NBL Games – Townsville Crocodiles. QBL Championship Winner – 2014 & 2015.
#15 Nathan Jawai Cairns Taipans (NBL) First Australian Indigenous player to be
drafted to the NBA (2008 NBA Draft - Indiana Pacers - Pick 41). Represented the Australian Boomers National Team at the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain. Has played professionally in Australia, France, Russia, Serbia, Spain and Turkey.
#17 Darryl McDowell-White Masters University (NAIA Div 1, USA) 22-years old.
#24 Michael Cedar Logan Thunder (QBL) 209 NBL Games – Townsville Crocodiles. QBL MVP & Championship Winner - 2012
#33 Tidjane Diop Gold Coast Rollers (QBL) Graduate of Seattle University, NCAA Div 1. WBL Championship Winner - 2015
#54 Chris Patton Kilsyth Cobras (NBL1) 50 NBL Games – Melbourne United and Cairns Taipans

AUSTRALIAN INDIGENOUS BASKETBALL ALL STARS WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM:

Name Current Club Notes
#5 Ambah Kowcun Forestville Eagles (SA Premier League) 18-years old.
#7 Jessica McDowell-White Eastern Washington (NCAA Div 1) 19-years-old. Has represented Australia at FIBA U-17 Oceania Championships.
#8 Alex Wilson Sydney Uni Flames (WNBL) Current Member of the Australian Opals Women’s National Squad. Two-time WNBL Champion (2015 & 2017) and WNBL Rookie of the Year in 2014. Represented the 2013 Australian Gems National Team at the U19 FIBA World Championships and 2010 Australian Sapphires National Team at the U17 FIBA World Championships. A graduate of the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Canberra, Australia.
#10 Georgie Baldwin Knox Raiders (NBL1) 17-years old.
#11 Alana Fraser Logan Thunder (QBL) 21-yeards old.
#13 Naomi Moke Cairns Dolphins (QBL) 4x WNBL seasons with Townsville Fire and Bulleen Boomers.
#14 Rebekah Dallinger North Sydney Bears (NSW Waratah League) 18-years-old
#15 Jasmin Fejo West Adelaide Bearcats (SA Premier League) 19-years old.
#24 Tahlia Fejo West Adelaide Bearcats (SA Premier League) 19-years old.
#35 Nes’eya Williams Perth Redbacks (WA State League) 18-years old. 1x WNBL season with the Perth Lynx