NEW Zealand tour director Mel Young is better qualified than almost anyone to comment on the Australian Country Junior Basketball Cup.
Besides Paul Gooding and John Martin, who have been involved in each of the tournament’s 27 years, Young came on board soon after when the Kiwis started competing.
“We only brought over two teams when we started,” Young said yesterday.
“Now we bring 120 boys and girls and 25 adults.
“They came from the north of the North Island and the south of the South.
“I have just come back from the US and am lucky enough to travel around the world with basketball and I’m telling you this is a high-quality tournament.
“It’s testament to everyone involved.
“Everyone gets behind it here.
“From the local council to Paul and the ladies at the stadium, everyone gets involved.”
New Zealand’s growing pool of talent is evident by the fact that it has another 100 youngsters playing in a tournament at Port Macquarie next week.
When the cup is officially opened at the Wodonga Sports and Leisure Centre at 10.30am on Monday, a record 72 teams, eight more than last year, will be assembled.
The addition of three extra teams from NSW, Victoria and South Australia and two Oceania sides have been behind the increase.
“It can’t get much bigger,” Gooding said.
“It started with 36 teams in the 1980s and we have hit 72 so we’re on our limit.”
While planning has been in the works for months, the referees will swing into action tomorrow with a camp at The Scots School Albury.
Matches will be played in Albury and Wodonga with quarter-finals starting from 8.30am on Friday.