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Wollongong Roller Hawks captain Brett Stibners says there’s no expectations for his NSW team when it lines up at Australia’s premier underage wheelchair basketball tournament, the Kevin Coombs Cup, in Ballarat next week.

 Brett Stibners Coach KCC Preview

It will be the four time Paralympian’s first foray into coaching, with the squad having limited opportunities to train together as a team since the side was selected in January. 


“We’ve got a really green team, so a lot to learn in such a short period of time. We’re trying to work as hard as we can on the basics.”


The team had a final hit out in Minto on the weekend during a Wheelchair Sports NSW/ACT Club Challenge.


“They improved, they’ve improved every time they’ve gotten together and I’m really happy with how they’re going especially with the stage they’re at in their career.”


Each side is composed of males aged 14 to 23 and females aged 14 to 25 with the New South Wales team featuring one Paralympian, a sprinkling of players with national league experience and the majority playing in a tournament for the first time. Stibners says it’s been a learning process for both himself and the players.


“I didn't know going into it, what it was going to be like and I wanted to be open minded about it, but it is hard sometimes when you understand something really easily to try and put that in words for someone else to understand.”


“Like most games, it’s like learning a different language and trying to pick the important times to say something has probably been the biggest challenge.”


The tournament will run alongside the Australian Under 18s Championships for able bodied athletes, but both have been sidelined for the last two years due to COVID .


“This tournament is really important to give kids experience and exposure to the national selectors, to the national coach, learn new skills, be part of a team and work out if you want to go to the next step.”


While most of the players are based in Sydney, the team also includes Bradley Burns and Luke Greco from Canberra, and Wagga’s Victoria Simpson, with all three making the trek to Sydney for each camp in the lead up to the tournament.

Jarrod Emeny KCC Preview

Jarrod Emeny is also on the team and although now based in Wollongong, he’s very familiar with having to travel long distances in order to train and play, having started his wheelchair basketball career in Mudgee.


“You have to grind by yourself, you have to train by yourself just to get ready for this kind of travel and training.” 


“I spent hours before school every day pushing just to lose the weight off and get used to being in a ball chair, that’s something you have to do it when you’re by yourself, you have to really self motivate to push yourself to be ready to perform and when you get the final chance to play you finally get to see where the results are.”


Along with the team goals, Emeny has a number of personal goals he’s set for the tournament. 


“Really looking at putting the minutes in and getting the shots up and getting used to playing against different teams and playing with a different team. I’ve got a few personal goals to go towards the under 23s Aussie program and what they want to see out of me.”


“I’m looking to really show the hard work I’ve put in and to also enjoy the time. We haven’t had these games in ages when you get to play all week. It’s a great opportunity to get out on the court and enjoy the sport.”


The tournament tips off on April 14th.

KEVIN COOMBS CUP DRAW (Click Here for Full Fixture)

Thursday 14th April Pool Game 9:00AM South Australia vs Victoria
Thursday 14th April Pool Game 9:30AM Western Australia vs New South Wales
Thursday 14th April Pool Game 3:30PM Victoria  vs Western Australia
Thursday 14th April Pool Game 5:30PM Queensland vs South Australia
Friday 15th April Pool Game 9:00AM Queensland vs Western Australia
Friday 15th April Pool Game 11:00AM Victoria  vs New South Wales
Friday 15th April Pool Game 3:30PM Western Australia vs South Australia
Friday 15th April Pool Game 5:30PM New South Wales vs Queensland
Saturday 16th April Pool Game 9:00AM Queensland vs Victoria 
Saturday 16th April Pool Game 11:30AM New South Wales vs South Australia
Saturday 16th April Semi Final 3:30PM 2nd vs 3rd
Saturday 16th April Semi Final 5:30PM 1st vs 4th
Sunday 17th April Bronze Medal Game 9:30AM Loser Semi Final 1 vs Loser Semi Final 2
Sunday 17th April Gold Medal Game 11:00AM Winner Semi Final 1 vs Winner Semi Final 2