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Saturday, June 24, 2017

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Basketball Classic returns to Tauranga

Posted at 8:14am Saturday 15 Apr, 2017 | By Ryan Wood ryan@thesun.co.nz

More than 1000 young basketballers will be shooting hoops in Tauranga this Easter weekend, when the Mel Young Easter Basketball Classic comes to town.

The annual tournament is named in honour of one of its founders, Mel Young, who passed away about a year ago. It is for representative teams from around the North Island and Australia, with ages ranging from under-11s to under-19s.

“We’ve got at least 135 teams coming, and 100 referees,” says Tauranga City Basketball general manager Mark Rogers.

“This is our fourth year in Tauranga, but the actual tournament has been running for more than 25 years. “It moves around the country, although we’ve got it secured up to 2018 at the moment.

“It’s a very big tournament – only certain places in the country have the facilities to host it.”

Games will be played at ASB Arena, Queen Elizabeth Youth Centre, Tauranga Boys’ College and Tauranga Intermediate, with 14 courts running concurrently.

Another aspect of the weekend is the upskilling opportunities for coaches and referees.

“As part of the tournament we do coaching and referee education as well,” says Mark.

“We have a Hall of Fame coach coming out from America, Jim Foster. He’s very highly-regarded.”

Mark says there’s a great demand for the tournament, and they often receive positive feedback from players in what is a rapidly-growing sport.

“I think Kiwi-turned- Oklahoma City Thunder player Steven Adams and the Breakers have had a huge impact. It’s a general trend that basketball is booming around the country.

“On current growth it will be the biggest sport in secondary schools by 2020.”

The size of the tournament is also a testament to Tauranga’s growing status as a destination for big sporting events.

“As a city we’re getting a reputation of being able to deliver quality events. People are approaching us more about hosting events, which is great.”

The tournament runs from Friday, April 14 to Monday, April 17. Spectators are welcome, and admission is free. Find out more at: taurangacitybasketball.co.nz 


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