After a recovery day, day six of the Pacific Youth Leaders Camp saw the athletes learn about the importance of preparation, also preparing for that night’s contest against the U21 Gold Coast Rollers.
Carrie Graf welcomed current Opals squad member Kelsey Griffin and former national team member Alison Tranquilli to the camp on day six. The pair would assist Graf in training and encouraging the campers.
Vilisi Tavui, referred to by Graf as the “Big Girl”, had the opportunity to be coached and got head-to-head against Bendigo Spirit star Griffin in a game of one-on-one. The chance for the 190cm Fijian to learn from someone with her size and boasting WNBA experience was invaluable.
Graf would have a clear message for the girls on day six – we learn, we grow, we develop and we lead.
The campers have been doing the same shooting drill for each session, where they’ve had to better their previous score. Graf emphasised the importance of not putting your head down if you didn’t beat your past score. The former Opals’ coach said she would never ask her players to do the drill again if they didn’t improve, as it needs to be used as a learning experience in an attempt to get to the next level.
Graf also went through one-on-one situations in driving to the basket, demonstrating the correct defensive footwork and where to attack. The group then focused on defensive positioning and communication in a five-on-five scrimmage.
The trio of coaches also had a message for the athletes: anything the boys can do, the girls can too! They stressed the importance of not second-guessing yourself on the court and to use your body as an advantage.
In their exhibition against the Gold Coast Rollers, the PYL women were dominant. Their stingy defense limited Gold Coast to no more than seven points in any quarter, with the PYL team going on to a commanding 44-18 victory.
In a balanced offensive attack, Rosa Kairi was the game’s leading scorer with 15 points.
To kick off the day, Phil Smyth welcomed former Australian Boomer Peter Crawford to the camp to assist in the sessions and in practice matches.
Before the session, Smyth explained to the campers about not wasting any practice time. He told them to make the most of their opportunities on the court, as it serves as a chance to get better.
Smyth went through numerous shooting drills, as he walked through a number of techniques with the athletes, focusing on having consistency in your shot. Off the back of his message about never stop trying to improve yourself, Smyth had the athletes go through a progressive development drill. He would have the campers begin with a simple jab step, then a jab into a jump shot, jab to a one dribble pull-up, and so on.
Smyth also encouraged the athletes to think while on the court. He explains only half of a drill, relying on the athlete’s development to guide them through the remainder of the activity.
The end of the session would see the boys go through some additional plays before their scrimmage against the Rollers.
In what was a back and forth, hard-fought battle, the PYL men would defeat Gold Coast 57-47. A strong third quarter, where the campers outscored the Rollers 20-11, solidified their lead, which they held onto in the final period.
Aron Farmer continued to excel, leading all scorers with 21 points.
Basketball for Development
With many of the campers working as coaches and leaders in their home countries, Mthoko Madonda of Reach Sports Management, introduced the concept of using basketball for development.
Madonda helped equip the athletes with the necessary knowledge to become better teachers and have a meaningful impact on their countrymen’s lives.
Daisy Arsen and Manoah Moli addressed the group about their experience of being Hoops for Health coaches in their native nation of Vanuatu.
Additionally, Griffin shared her story with the group, while Anne Bunde-Birouste from Football United also spoke about her company.
*This event has been made possible through Australian Government funding.
FIBA (fiba.com) – the world governing body for basketball – is an independent association formed by 215 National Basketball Federations throughout the world. It is recognised as the sole competent authority in basketball by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).