HoopNation to hit Tauranga this Labour weekend

By Jessica Tyson

A record number of athletes are set to take part in New Zealand's biggest Pro-Am basketball competition HoopNation in Tauranga this Labour weekend.

The event, organised by two friends from Whanganui named Paul Berridge and KJ Allen, started in 2011 with 15 teams.

This year 144 teams and 1400 athletes will take part, with almost 400 games to be played over the four days.

And for the first time, Australia is sending over nine teams, including two indigenous teams.

“Collaborating with organisations in Australia and Asia-Pacific has created an opportunity for tours to be established so that our Māori players and others have a chance to play internationally," says Berridge.

“It also provides a platform for kids to play basketball at a national level with the influence of international teams to gain more experience and exposure to potential pathways with the game of basketball.”

Two up-and-coming Māori talents to showcase are Tautoko Wynyard and Jyordanna Davey.

Wynyard was named U15 MVP at this year’s National Competition. He’s also following in the footsteps of his older brother Tai Wynyard who played with powerhouse Division One University of Kentucky and was a Junior Tall Black for many years.

Davey was also named MVP at this year’s U15 National Competition and has been pegged as one to watch with a big future ahead of her in the sport.