Tag: Alana Goodchild

NZNBL 18IN18 team preview: Waikato Wizards

THE next team in focus is Waikato Wizards who are preparing for the upcoming New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) Sal’s NBL 18IN18 competition which will see a fast paced, action packed 18 days of basketball action. Community Basketball Manager for the Wizards, Anthony Corban shed some light on what preparation has been like and what it means for the side to actually take the court in 2020.

With a relatively new format seeing teams fly in and fly out of venues on a tight turn around, Corban has commended Basketball New Zealand’s overall efforts to get the season up and running and ability to overcome the logistics to ensure a women’s season became a reality rather than a dream.

“The NZ NBL and Basketball New Zealand has to be commended for making a women’s NBL happen in 2020,” he said. “Many thought it was in the too hard basket. “But a committed staff and board at BBNZ, along with great team representatives have made this happen. “Any opportunity to promote women’s basketball is fantastic.”

Boasting a young core group of players, Corban is simply excited to see what they can produce throughout the competition. He also made mention of a couple of key players expected to light up the court for the Wizards. One name that stood out in particular was that of Tall Fern Matangiroa (Pep) Flavell who impressed throughout 2019 albeit in different colours but will be a valuable addition to the Wizards.

“We are a young group this year, so just looking forward to getting them on the court and competing,” he said. “We have some really exciting guards in our team. Kayla Manuirirangi, Pep Flavell, Alyssa Hirawani are three guards that will excite.”

“We have the best age group women’s programme here in New Zealand so look out for the young contenders Jay Waihi, Breeje Schuler and Alana Paewai,” Corban stated. “We’ve also managed to strengthen our forward line-up with Maka Daysh in our group. As traditionally we have played small ball.”

Given the number of guards in the team it is no surprise that the Wizards overall game style will focus on them and using every inch of space out on court to create continuous forward forays and open up avenues to the basket. In saying that however, Corban also mentioned that they will not be a one trick-pony and have a couple of tricks up their sleeves to keep their opponents guessing.

“Traditionally we have played a guard orientated style of basketball. “Using the width of the court and creating space for others. “We will be doing that and also utilising the strength of our forward line up. “Game scouts will see our style vary each game,” he said.

It has been an unconventional and unprecedented year to say the least which has filtered into the sports world, with Corban labelling the year as “tough” however through adversity comes opportunity something that Community Basketball Manager noted in regards to building the squad for the upcoming season.

“We have lost six of our squad to USA Colleges. (It) has meant a change in coaching and training techniques. However it presents our 17 & Under players with an opportunity to step up and play alongside our veterans,” Corban said.

When asked about their main intention for the season the obvious answer was to make it to the semi-finals however, Corban also had a few other factors in mind – most importantly the notion to support women’s basketball and continue the sports growth in New Zealand.

“Support this league and provide a good spectacle for women’s basketball. We are like most of the other teams a little under prepared due to the 2020 COVID  issues however we will make the most of this,” he said. “A semi-final appearance is the intention of every team.”

Waikato Wizards kick off the season on Thursday 19 against Auckland Dream at 7:30pm (local time).


Matangiroa Flavell
Ari Parai
Kelcy Ballantyne
Courtney Wilson
Natasha Lenden
Reese Anderson

2019/20 WNBL season review: Sydney Uni Flames

SYDNEY Uni was plagued by injury in season 2019/20 of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL), with the side suffering a number of season-ending injuries as the season went on. While the Flames still managed seven wins, they lost six of their last seven matches for the season to finish on a frustrating low.

Ladder: 6th

After finishing the 2018-19 season with a 2-19 record, change was not just crucial, but it was imminent. First the Flames hired a new coach in Katrina Hibbert, while the most hyped addition to the squad was that of veteran Alice Kunek. It was believed that Kunek’s experience would be a key asset to the team’s success – it was, seeing her lead the team in scoring with an average of 19 points per game, playing with so much passion and ferocity, you could not keep your eyes off her. But her season was brought to an abrupt end suffering an elbow injury. Colleen Planeta was another new face for Sydney and was dropping nearly 16 points a game, until she followed suit with injury. With many more new players in Flames jerseys, unfortunately injuries would be a major theme for this season. However props to the fanatics of Sydney Uni, as they stood loyal, packing the Brydens Stadium game after game. 

It was an injury riddled season starting from the opening round when Brittany Smart suffered a terrible calf injury. This would not deter the Flames’ spirits as the rest of the season started on a positive. Kunek was thriving in the new offence, and the duo of Planeta and Jess Kuster piled up the scoreboard averaging 15.7 and 13 points a game. But the injuries did not stop there as Planeta suffered an ACL injury in the win over Southside, forcing her to miss the rest of the season. At this point in the season, the Flames’ hopes of a playoff berth were still realistic, as they only had a six and eight record. But after Tahlia Tupea did her knee, then Kunek her elbow, the season seemed over. Even with Kunek’s devastating elbow injury, which is a tough pill to swallow for a 29 year-old, Kunek was granted WNBL All-Star Second Team honours for her impressive efforts across the season. Smart was able to come back and play the last seven games of the season nearly dropping 10 points a match, while having three games where she scored more than 18, but it was too little too late. The Flames finished the season second last in points scored (73.8 per game), last in rebounds (38 per game) and last in assists (15.4 per game).

If it was not for the injuries, maybe this team could have made some noise in the playoffs. If everyone can recover in time for next season, they just might. In Kuster’s first ever season in the WNBL, it seemed she had the hot hand every single match, shooting at 53.1 per cent from the field and 40.7 per cent from deep. Kitty Henderson will be someone to look out for next season, as she has improved notably with every game under her belt. Starting the season as a development player, Kitty moved her way up to an important bench player thanks to injuries, bringing a level of enthusiasm and ability to improve that any team would be lucky to have. The Flames seem to be putting more and more faith in gifted 16-year-old prodigy, Alana Goodchild. She might just be a name you want to remember. The Flames also say goodbye to their captain Sarah Graham, a veteran for 12 seasons in the WNBL across four different clubs. With all the injuries the Flames obtained, they seemingly lost the spark they came into the season with but have plenty to look forward to next season with the development of some young up and coming players.