The 2014 Australian Under 20 and Ivor Burge National Championships tip off in Perth today, with the country’s premier young players out to claim the first national title of the calendar year.
Perth’s Kalamunda Basketball Association (KBA) will host the week-long event, welcoming 29 teams from Australia and New Zealand to basketball-loving Western Australia.
The Under 20 National Championships have long been a breeding ground for the stars of the WNBL, NBL and Australia’s national team programs since their inception in 1991.
Hosted in Brisbane, the tournament saw Victoria Metro win the men’s division, with South Australia claiming the women’s crown. At that tournament we saw two future stars of Australian basketball emerge in Australian Boomer Tony Ronaldson and Jayco Australian Opal Trish Fallon – both winning the Bob Staunton Medal for tournament Most Valuable Player.
This award would soon become an indicator of future stars to come through the Australian basketball ranks, with some of biggest stars (past, present and future) adding their name to the list of winners.
Boomers legend and Adelaide 36ers all-time great Brett Maher won the Bob Staunton Medal in 1992, with “Slammin” Sam MacKinnon adding his name to the honour roll in 1995. Current day Boomers Brad Newley (2004) and Patty Mills(2006 and 2007) have used the tournament as a launch pad to successful careers in Europe and the NBA, while emerging star Dante Exum collected the MVP award in 2013, guiding Victoria to the men’s title.
Many of the Australian Opals all-time greats have their name on the list of Bob Staunton Medallists, including four-time Olympian and Bendigo Spirit star Kristi Harrower (1994), Opals captain Lauren Jackson (1999) and three-time Olympian and WNBL All-Star Five selection Laura Hodges (2002) some of the long-time national team fixtures who have excelled in the tournament.
WNBA star and Opals point guard Erin Phillips was the MVP in 2004, while emerging Opals talent Tess Madgen was another South Australian product to excel at the Under 20s, with the 2013 MVP, Alex Wilson using the award to launch a brilliant debut WNBL season, winning the Rookie of the Year.
Since 1995 the Ivor Burge Championships have been a major part of the Under 20 National Championships, bringing together the premier basketball talent with an intellectual disability to compete for the coveted national title.
Victoria Metro have been the gold standard among the men’s teams competing for the national crown, making the division their own by winning the past nine championships dating back to 2005.
This tradition of producing quality players will hope to continue for the competition’s most dominant team, while in the women’s division it has also been Victoria Metro enjoying prolonged success on court.
They have claimed the past five national championships dating back to 2009, with New South Wales Metro the last team to hold win the title aside from their southern neighbours, back in 2008 in Albury.
For all the latest fixtures, results and live stats from the 2014 Australian Under 20 and Ivor Burge National Championships visit www.nationals.basketball.net.au.