Victoria’s best to take on the nation at Club Championships

VICTORIAN basketball will be well represented at the Basketball Australia Under-14 Club Championships, with 12 sides from across our state battling it out for the title.

Spanning 1-6 October, held concurrently in Shepparton (girls) and Kilsyth (boys) tournament, the Championships will be a showcase of future Australian basketball stars.

Starting in 1970, the Under-14 Club Championship is the most prestigious club basketball tournament in Australia bringing together 48 clubs from across the nation to test their might against one another.

The 12 Victorian representative squads include six boys’ sides – Eltham Wildcats, Nunawading Spectres, Werribee Devils, Bulleen Boomers, Kilsyth Cobras and Warrnambool Seahawks – competing for the Ken Watson Trophy.

While up the highway in Shepparton, our six Victorian girls’ sides – Melbourne Tigers, Knox Raiders, Sandringham Sabres, Altona Gators, Wodonga Lady Wolves and Shepparton Gators – are in the running for the Michele Timms Trophy and the goal of being crowned national club champions.

The Eltham Wildcats will hope to continue their incredible 2018 season with a victory at the championships.

After winning the National Junior Classics over the Queen’s birthday long weekend in June, the Wildcats continue their reign as a powerhouse in the Under-14 division. Head coach Craig Stratford will take a new look roster to Club Championships following their success in Dandenong, winning the championship in 2017.

Then bottom-ager Kristian Ferronato is the only player who remains from the Wildcats 2017 roster, but he brings a wealth of championship winning experience to this new 2018 team.

Representing the strength of Victorian country basketball are the Warrnambool Seahawks.

Finishing an outstanding ninth at the Classics in June, the Seahawks continue to grow their basketball program with an invite to the Club Championships.

The girls competition is wide open this year after perennial title contenders Bulleen Boomers failed to qualify for the tournament.

The most successful club in the history of the championships, the Boomers who won their 12th title in 2017, will be the most notable absentee from the crop of Victorian teams.

But this situation means another of the Victorian powerhouses can ascend to become title-winners.

One team on the cusp of greatness are the Melbourne Tigers. After winning the National Junior Classic in June, the Tigers will head into October’s tournament as a true title contender.

A win at the championships would be the iconic Victorian club’s first since 2010. Another squad targeting its opportunity at the Championships are the Knox Raiders. After a third-placing at the Classics, the Raiders are looking to take the next step and make it to the championship game.

Representing Victoria country are the Wodonga Wolves. The Wolves have been invited to be one of the 48 clubs on the back of their outstanding country championships performance.

Last year’s winners, Eltham Wildcats boys, and Bulleen Boomers girls, earned the opportunity to represent Asia-Pacific at the inaugural Jr. NBA World Championships after winning the 2017 Club Championships.

The surprise announcement made by the NBA resulted in the players being flown to Orlando, Florida to compete against some of the world’s best 13 and 14-year-olds.

The Victorian club teams battled valiantly against teams comprised of an entire country’s athletes aged 14 and under progressing to the International quarter-final stages.

Capturing this prestigious championship sets the stage for any team that wins it and will elevate our victors to higher echelons as one of the best club squads in Australia.

It’s an honour any basketball club would covet, so let’s hope come Sunday 6 October there are a pair of Victorian teams holding the trophies aloft.

Feature image courtesy of Kangaroo Photos

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