IT has been a long time between Under-18 Australian Junior Basketball Championships for the WA metro men’s team.
In fact, the last time WA won the competition in 2000, none of the team’s current crop of players had even been born yet.
But that all changed last month when WA conquered all before them to take out the 2018 championship.
After dropping their first game of the competition to Queensland South, WA had a chance to dole out some revenge when the two teams met again in the grand final.
Within arms length of making history, WA controlled the game from beginning to end to take out a 102-81 win and be crowned champions.
WA co-captain Travis Fee said prior to the competition, he had been quietly confident the team would perform strongly.
“I thought the team would do very well, as we had a lot of great players who were all very versatile and a great group of coaches, which helped us,” he said.
“I am very proud and satisfied knowing all the hard work our team and coaching staff put in paid off.
“Our goal was to win the tournament and we completed that.”
Assistant coach Fleur McIntyre said she and head coach Andrew Cooper knew they had a strong team that was capable of taking out the title.
“We had three Australian junior representatives in Wani Swaka Lo Buluk, Luke Travers and Luke Jackson, plus the talent across the entire age group was very good,” she said.
“In terms of their best games, I think it’s hard to overlook the semi-final against Victoria Metro, who were the favourite and undefeated leading into that game, and our gold-medal game against Queensland South.
“We shot the ball very well in both games but more importantly I think our defensive transition and offensive ball movement was exceptional.
“I had messages from people after those games watching these boys play saying it was beautiful team basketball to watch and it was – sometimes the coaching staff would just watch with a mix of awe and pride for how these boys played together.
“They were absolutely ecstatic to win that gold medal and were just so happy they were rewarded for their hard work; their faces after we won gold is something the coaching staff will never forget.”
McIntyre said the result would have a huge ripple effect for not only the players who won but basketball in WA as a whole.
“I think it’s just a really nice positive story for WA basketball and our high-performance programs,” she said.
“The support back home from Basketball WA, SBL, even the NBL with the Wildcats tweeting and messaging us, was so exciting.
“Hopefully it provides a nice platform for the continual rise of WA basketball on a national stage.”
Travis added the competition had been a huge learning curve for him as he continued his development in the sport.
“I personally learned a lot from playing at the higher competition; I learned how to be more physical and the difference in the speed of play,” he said.
“I’m not too sure yet where I’d like to go in the future but currently I would like to start training and playing with my local Willetton Tigers SBL squad.”
The WA Metro Men’s team
Travis Fee: Willetton
Lachlan Forrest: Perth
Derek Igbenoba: Cockburn
Luke Jackson: Willetton
Connor Mincherton: Willetton
Adrian Nobensi: Perry Lakes
Wani Swaka Lo Buluk: Stirling
Matthew Teale: Lakeside
Luke Travers: Rockingham
Kane Waters: Rockingham