Under-18 Men’s Victory Country Team List: Broden Collins, Kai Daniels, Ethan Fiegert, Connor Graham, Liam Herbert, Dominic Occhipinti, Harrison Pepper, Jay Rantall, Keith Robinson, Jack Terrill.
Vic Country should receive a boost this year with the Under-18’s tournament being held on their home floor and with several members of the team having won the silver at the Under-16’s two years, the goal for the team is to get back on to the podium.
“The players from that team will be the core,” said Justin Schueller, Basketball Victoria High Performance Country Coach.
“Harry Pepper was an integral part two years ago and also returns after playing bottom-age Under-18’s last year while we are looking forward to seeing the development of Jack Terrill and Connor Graham.”
Terrill has spent time over the past two years at the YMCA Basketball Club in Geelong where he has grown into more of an offensive threat and another player who could surprise is Kai Daniels who will be making his Championships debut.
“Kai has been a reserve nearly every year so we are really looking forward to see what he can do,” said Schueller.
Leading the Australian Crocs to a gold medal at the FIBA Asian Championships earlier this month, Schueller also got a first-hand look at Jay Rantall and Liam Herbert.
Rantall was one of four Aussies to average double-figure scoring at that tournament which also saw the Crocs qualify for the Under-17 World Cup later this year while 5.2 points before coming up big in the final against China, tallying ten points on 4-6 shooting.
“Jay is a natural scorer with a shooters mentality and I think he may have led us on the scoreboard for the first two games at the Asian Championships,” said Schueller.
“He will bring that attitude to Vic Country and has the ability to make big plays.
“Liam is a floor general who has his own scoring ability as well but he will look to set the team up which will be crucial to their chances.”
Under-18 Men’s Victoria Metro Team List: Joshua Bannan, Joel Capetola, Daniel Foster, Joe Mutimer, Lucas Rocci, Wil Tattersall, Samuel Taulapiu, Zac Triplett, Paul Tsapatolis, Kobe Williamson.
The defending Champions heading into 2018, Vic Metro have a different-looking side with only two players returning from last year’s team while four members are making their Championships debut.
Zac Triplett, Josh Bannan, Wil Tattersall and Joe Mutimer will all make their debuts but they come with impressive resumes.
Mutimer averaged 23.7 points per game at last year’s School Champs, Triplett is a strong three-pointer shooter and Tattersall shone at the Eltham Dandenong Junior Basketball tournament so Vic Metro will have no lack of offensive weapons next week.
“This is a great achievement for the four guys and a reward for them having continued to improve their game over the years,” said Michael Czepil, Basketball Victoria High Performance Metropolitan Coach.
They will be led by Joel Capetola and Samuel Taulapiu who were members of the 2017 gold medal winning team while Capetola is coming off another gold medal at the FIBA Asian Championships earlier this month where he played alongside state team mates, Paul Tsapatolis and Kobe Williamson.
Capetola is a capable passer who can stretch the floor with his ability to find team mates from under the rim while Williamson showcased his strength on the boards with 7.6 points and six rebounds per game at the Asian Championships including a nine-point, 17-rebound performance (including nine offensive boards) against Korea.
“Those guys with international pedigree will certainly have a leadership role within the team and that experience will prove invaluable heading into the Under-18 Championships,” said Czepil.
Under-18 Women’s Victoria Country Team List: Georgia Amoore, Karli Bruce, Agnes Emma-Nnopu, Alisha Knights, Jade Melbourne, Olivia Noter, Ella Ogier, Olivia Pollerd, Carley Remmos, Chloe Storer.
After defeating Vic Metro in last year’s Semi-Final by 40 points and going on to claim the gold medal, Vic Country enter 2018 as the hunted which is an unusual position for the team.
“It is a unique situation but the girls are not concerned and coach Gerard Hillier does a great job in keeping them focused and on track for what they have to do,” said Schueller.
“The team has a great aura about them that they know it is about just enjoying the journey.”
In combination with Vic Country being the defending Champions, from which Georgia Amoore, Agnes Emma-Nnopu and Ella Ogier are returning, several members of the team were also silver medalists during their Under-16’s campaigns.
“Because of that strong recent history, we expect to again vie for the gold medal and with the players from the past few years now combining in one age group, we feel we have a lot of depth.”
Helping the Australian Sapphires qualify for the Under-17 World Cup last year, Amoore finished third in the team for scoring with 11.2 points per game while leading them with 2.2 steals.
She played alongside Emma-Nnopu (11.5 points, two steals, one block per contest) at that tournament as well while Olivia Pollerd (three points, three rebounds per game) also showcased her talents on the international stage.
Emma-Nnopu has been developing her game at the Centre of Excellence so her ability to merge back into the state team will be telling in terms of Vic Country’s Championship hopes but the home court advantage will also help them.
I’ve been a long-time believer that home town tournaments are worth at least a couple of placings,” said Schueller.
“Having people from your own backyard and friends and family in attendance will certainly provide a boost for the men’s and women’s team.”
Under-18 Women’s Victoria Metro Team List: Isobel Anstey, Jayden Cadee, Lara Edmanson, Abbey Ellis, Eliza Hollingsworth, Sophie Locandro, Gemma Potter, Erin Riley, Lily Scanlon, Sarah-Rose Smith.
A streak of three consecutive Under-18 gold medals came to an end for Vic Metro last year when Vic Country upset them in the Semi-Final but they have brought in Reece Potter as head coach to get them back on top of the podium.
“Reece is originally a New South Welshman and he took the Launceston Tornadoes to the SEABL playoffs in consecutive years,” said Czepil.
“He is now the player and coach development manager at Werribee Basketball and will be great for this team as he gets set to coach his first nationals.”
Eliza Hollingsworth and Isobel Anstey are back for redemption in 2018 and will bulk up their front court. While Anstey shot at below 30% from the field last year, she still averaged 8.6 points and 7.8 rebounds and got to the free-throw line consistently.
Hollingsworth has been developing her game at the Centre of Excellence (CoE) alongside team mate Gemma Potter who dominated at the 2017 Under-16’s, averaging 20 points on 56% shooting with 7.8 rebounds and 4.3 steals.
“We have great athleticism and size (including 205cm Lara Edmanson) and with those girls coming back from the CoE, we have a really good mix of bottom and top-agers,” said Czepil.
Kevin Coombs Cup Team List:
Jaylen Brown, Jontee Brown, James Campbell Weinert, Brian Carminati, Campbell Fraser, William Ilsley, Bailey Jankovic, Isabel Martin, Teisha Shadwell, Jeremy Tyndall.
Bronze medalists for the past three years in a row, Victoria have retained six members of last year’s roster as they aim to win the Semi-Final and play off for gold.
That includes Kilsyth Cobras team mates from the National Wheelchair Basketball League (NWBL) in Jontee Brown and Brian Carminati while those two players were joined by Jeremy Tyndall in the Under-23 Spinners team that won the bronze medal at the World Championships last year.
Brown finished second for rebounds at the 2017 Kevin Coombs Cup and was one of only four players to average a double-double, Carminati finished fifth for scoring with 15.5 points while Tyndall starred at both ends of the court with 10.7 points, seven assists (second in the tournament) and 4.3 steals (third).
Two Kilsyth Cobras team mates from the Women’s National Wheelchair BasketbalL League (WNWBL) will also be present for Victoria in Teisha Shadwell and Isabel Martin.
Shadwell has an amazing story in her journey to the Kevin Coombs Cup as she competed in the Under-14 Club Championships in 2016.
However, she suffered a broken hand and two broken feet with doctors giving her a very slim chance of ever returning to the court but she has found another role in the WNWBL where she earned the Best New Talent award last year.
So far in 2018, she is averaging 15 points, 13 rebounds and four assists per contest and if she brings that intensity to the Kevin Coombs Cup, Victoria could improve on their run of three straight bronze medals.