Trans-Tasman Indigenous series tips off

By Ruth Smith

The 5th Annual Trans-Tasman Basketball Series between long-time rivals the Australian Indigenous All Stars and the NZ Maori Men's basketball team tip off tonight at the Te Awamutu Events Centre. 

The hosts were warming up before the big showdown in Te Awamutu tonight.

Super City Rangers guard Daniel Green says that the NZ Maōri team are still hurting from their series loss last year against Australia's Apunipima All Stars.

In their endeavours to come up trumps this year, they've brought back one of their most experienced players, Hawke's Bay guard, Everard Bartlett.

"Ever since they announced that they were going to do the Indigenous versus the Māoris, if I had time I'd definitely play," said Bartlett.     

Bartlett is excited to post up against his Trans-Tasman cousins, he also says that this series is a great opportunity for the younger members of his team.

"I believe it is another avenue for our kids, especially our Māori kids to explore.  The Māori All Blacks; they still travel around the world playing some of the best teams and this is sort of, on a basketball scale, the same as what we're trying to develop here," he says.

The indigenous Australian side has won the last three consecutive series and boasts some big names, including Melbourne United forward Chris Patton and Townsville Crocodiles guard Chris Cedar. 

However, Māori coach Jeff Green is adamant that there will not be a fourth win.

"We're looking to win the series obviously.  It's been really tight over the last few years with us and the indigenous Australians, so it's just a matter of just knuckling down and trying to get a win on the home turf," Green says.

The first game tips off at 7pm tonight at the Te Awamutu Events Centre.