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FIBA U18 Oceania Championships 2016 player profiles: New Zealand
SUVA (FIBA U18 Oceania Championships 2016) - After winning silver medal’s in both the men’s and women’s brackets in 2014, New Zealand will be aiming to go one step further at the FIBA U18 Oceania Championships 2016. Two athletes tasked with that goal will be Akiene Reed and Sam Waardenburg.
Reed will enter the championships after a whirlwind couples of years. Despite having past experience in a FIBA tournament, as Reed participated in the 2013 U16 Championship’s, she has had her hands full playing with the Life Centre Academy in New Jersey, in the National Independent Schools Athletic Association (NISAA).
The decision to leave home at such a young age was tough for the New Zealander, but she believes it was the correct one.
“In New Zealand the players definitely have the fundamentals and the skills, but the intensity back in the U.S. is a lot higher,” Reed said, via Basketball New Zealand.
Reed has impressed in her two seasons at the American high school, averaging 16.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. Additionally, Reed is just 37 points shy of reaching the 1,000-point milestone for the team, a mark she is surely set to crack when she returns next season.
For now, though, Reed is solely focused on winning gold for the Kiwis. At the 2013 U16’s, Reed stood out with 16.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game, but New Zealand lost all three games to Australia. While Reed will be playing with new teammates at the 2016 U18 Oceania’s, you know her sights are set on one country.
“I haven’t played with many of these girls before. Some of the girls are really young but they have great skills,” Reed said, via Basketball New Zealand.
“I love it being part of the team and I am looking forward to taking on the Australians later in the year.”
On the men’s side, Waardenburg’s young basketball career has been just as crazy as his female counterpart.
The Rangitoto student has committed to the University of Miami, although he plans to redshirt in the 2016-17 season. That doesn’t mean Waardenburg’s life hasn’t been filled with basketball lately, though. Waardenburg has played in the 2016 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championships, NIKE All Asia Camp, NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp and the 2016 New Zealand Secondary Schools National Championships.
His resume doesn’t stop there, as Waardenburg has also represented New Zealand at the 2015 FIBA U17 Oceania Championships and the bronze-medal winning U16 squad at the Australian State Championships.
The 6’9” power forward flashed his scoring ability at the 2016 adidas Nations camp, where Waardenburg scored 30 points in 25 minutes in the final game of the tournament. If Waardenburg can bring this scoring expertise to the FIBA Oceania’s, it’ll go a long way in New Zealand’s gold medal chances.
The FIBA U18 Oceania Championships 2016 will take place in Suva, Fiji, from the 5th to 10th of December.