The search for the next generation of Boomers continues with a squad of 24 athletes named to take part in a Churchill camp from June 12-15 in preparation for the Under-17 World Championships.
The extra camp has been made possible through the generous support of Latrobe City Council and based on the player’s performance, selectors will consider a reduced squad of 16 to take part in a final camp in July before the FIBA Oceania Championships. From there, the winner will qualify for the World Championships in 2016.
Coach Mark Watkins is looking forward to seeing how the group has progressed since last witnessing them at a development camp in January.
“Being young boys they mature and develop quickly so I’m looking forward to seeing the whole group together and seeing how much they’ve improved,” he said.
Nine players from the squad took part in the Australian Junior Championships in April with Patrick Bines representing Vic Metro, Biar Garang playing for SA Metro, Jhonny Lutula for WA Metro and Kyle Zunic and William Howell coming off the bench for the victorious NSW Country.
Also at the tournament, Dragan Elkaz collected seven points per game for NSW Metro, Matthew Johns averaged 8.5 points and 5.5 rebounds for Vic Country, Harrison Mills had a double-double in a game for SA Country and Tom Fullarton (18 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists) recorded a triple-double as captain of QLD South.
Watkins was delighted when speaking on the assembled squad.
“Fullarton will be a big part of the group with his leadership,” he said. “Lachlan Dent is a guard from Wollongong and has had good nationals in the past. 208cm Mate Colina was a bit of an unknown but certainly fits the bills with energy and effort. Brady Armstrong was also off the radar until nationals in January but has played himself into the squad.”
Having secured silver at the past two World Championships in 2012 and 2014, Watkins believes his side is capable of repeating those performances but is not taking the preceding Oceania qualifiers lightly.
“We hopefully can get past New Caledonia and Tahiti but New Zealand have been together for 18 months and are renowned for having strong, mature boys. A one game qualifier in front of the New Zealand crowd is not going to be easy. It’s a tough ask but that’s our first priority and fingers crossed we get that done.”
The Under-17 squad for the Churchill camp: Brady Armstrong, Patrick Bines, Mate Colina, Callum Dalton, Lachlan Dent, Dragan Elkaz, Benjamin Fakira, Samson Froling, Tom Fullarton, Biar Garang, Jason Gregg, Bailey Griffiths, Ky Hampton-Matthews, Jamie Hepburn, William Howell, Matthew Johns, Jhonny Lutula, Harrison Mills, Moses Mojok, Alexander Mudronja, Aidan O’Carroll, Ryan Runnalls, Jordan Starr and Kyle Zunic.