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Wollongong Roller Hawk and New South Wales coach Brett Stibners secretly has high hopes for his charges when they compete at Australia’s premier junior wheelchair basketball tournament, the Kevin Coombes Cup tipping off on Thursday.


“I don’t have an expectation of where we’re going to finish, I just hope we play our best and if we can play our best, then I’m sure we can push for that final. That’s my personal goal but I don’t want to put any pressure on the kids with that,” says Stibners.

Brett Stibners NSW Coach 2

The Roller Hawks captain had his first foray into coaching at last year’s tournament where a relatively inexperienced New South Wales side with limited preparation failed to win a game. 


Stibners managed the expectations going into the 2022 event but knows the side has greatly improved in the last twelve months. 


“We’ve got a really good balance this year and I’m happy with that. We’ve got some very good shooting, some experience, some big guys, some really good low pointers as well, so hopefully that balance helps us out throughout the tournament and we do well.”


Under Stibner’s watch the side has been able to train more regularly and play at events like Wheelchair Sports NSW/ACT Club Challenges and the Wheelchair Basketball Illawarra Festival. 


“We’ve been working on the same thing, getting out fast, passing the ball, getting to our spots and shooting but having more preparation time is much, much easier.”


“We’ve got some old heads coming back as well, if you can call them that in a junior team, Tatum Brown and Maryanne Latu, so we've got a very competitive team this year.”


“Tatum is going to be unreal for us, he brings that experience that we didn’t have last year and he does very well in the men’s national league at just 17 years old so playing against kids that don’t have that experience, he’s well above where they are.”


Each side is composed of males aged 14 to 23 and females aged 14 to 25 with six players returning from the New South Wales that competed in last year’s tournament including Roller Hawk Jarrod Emeny.


Emeny believes improved preparation will lead to better results for this year’s team.


“We just know how to play together now, we have a lot more experience and a lot more hours playing through games and working through that rut of things not going right and being able to bounce back and really score some points and that was our struggle last year, we’d get down and it was really hard for us to bounce back,” says Emeny.

Jarrod Emeny NSW 1

Emeny says the experience he’s gained over the last twelve months including a NWBL championship with the Roller Hawks and a trip to the Under 23s World Championships in Thailand has also had a huge impact on his game. 


“That experience is something you can’t chase until you’re in those sorts of environments, you can’t get it elsewhere. You can replicate it in training sometimes, but really suiting up and having that clock pressure is a whole different experience and playing with the Roller Hawks was massive in that.”


“Just that roll out experience, and then also recovering from those games so you can play more the next day, that’s been really beneficial to me.”


The tournament runs alongside the Australian Under 18s Championships for able bodied athletes at the Northside Indoor Sports Centre, Zillmere QLD.

KCC Draw 2023