From 26 September to 1 October, six of Western Australia’s best will battle the top teams from the country at the Under 14 National Club Championships. The three Girls teams are represented by the Willetton Tigers, Kalamunda Eastern Suns and Geraldton Buccaneers. The Tigers and Buccs have also qualified their Boys teams who will join the Joondalup Wolves, as all six head to Newcastle and Maitland, NSW. We caught up with the teams to see how their preparations are going in the lead up to the National tournament:
Willetton Tigers Boys (Cougar Classic position – 1st, current WABL position – 1st (5-0) Head Coach : Chris Lee
BWA: What a start to the year! Undefeated at the Cougar Classic and currently 5 and 0 during the season – how happy are you with the boys’ performances to date?
CL: The boys have trained extremely hard since we started our campaign in August last year and it is a testament to them all in the way they have approached the season to date; as their desire, commitment and attitude to aspire to a particular standard is something that they are continually working very hard at. We developed a program for the Cockburn Classic that as a team we believed would make us very competitive in this tournament and full credit must go the boys as they really embraced the way in which we needed to change the way that they had previously played, both individually and as a team. We were fortunate enough to play the other two touring teams in the Cockburn Classic and although the margin was a bit more than everyone expected (including ourselves) we have the upmost respect in the quality of both teams as our boys really look forward to the quality of the contest every time we are fortunate enough to play both of these teams.
BWA: Is it tough to keep the team focused and not get overly complacent, given most of the big challenges lay over east?
CL: The most pleasing aspect of coaching this team is that they are extremely self-driven and approach our program with an open mind and the self-confidence to personally drive themselves towards what we have set out for them to be and achieve. Most of the team have little to no idea of the standard they will face at the AJC but we are quite fortunate that a few players in our team have had the opportunity to represent WA in either the State School boys and/or the Southern Cross Challenge and this has given us some valuable insight into the playing standards over in the east. This knowledge is extremely beneficial towards the planning and implementation of our program as the aim is to reach a standard that we believe can make a difference of how our league (WABL) will be held in regard, not only from our supporters and the Willetton Basketball Association but also by the power clubs across Australia that will be attending the Australian Junior Club Championships.
BWA: How often are the team currently training and playing games/scratch matches?
CL: We train twice a week and currently as a group play twice a week, in WABL and in an older age group domestic competition at Willetton. We have had a couple of scratch matches to date and when the program permits will be looking at further games against more physically prepared and structured teams in preparation for the tournament.
BWA: Give your thoughts on the standard of the current WABL competition and do you think it’s heading in the right direction?
CL: We have really enjoyed the concept of and participating in the Elite 10 competition for the Under 14 Championship Division as we are privileged to have the opportunity to play against quality teams twice throughout the season. We are very encouraged with this concept and envisage this will increase the standard of the junior WABL competition in the development age groups.
BWA: Have you set a goal for the tournament, maybe a particular position or other aspects of the game?
CL: As mentioned above we hope to perform at a level that the boys, our supports and the West Australian basketball community will be proud of. If the boys are able to perform to the standard we have planned for them, we hope that this will hold them in good stead over the week we are away.