TW140821NADPOROTI_0074.JPG Jimmy Turner, 11, eyes the hoop as he takes a shot in the shoot out competition. Photo / Tania Whyte
Tall Black Tom Abercrombie hits the courts with young basketballers at the Mangakahia Sports Complex. Photo / Tania Whyte
Lorraine Norris 'Nanna Nossi' welcomes all everyone to the opening of the new community court on Saturday. Photo / Tania Whyte
Keen basketball players Arabella Chapman and Ella Guitry, both 10, shoot hoops on the new community court in Poroti. Photo / Tania Whyte
Tom Abercrombie takes on 8-year-old Brayden Earney. Photo / Tania Whyte
Northland wheelchair basketball representative Derek Doner came out to celebrate and support the opening of the new court. Photo / Tania Whyte
Jimmy Turner, 11, eyes the hoop as he takes a shot in the shoot out competition. Photo / Tania Whyte
Millie Taylor, 9, and Arabella Chapman,10, about to shoot some hoops. Photo / Tania Whyte
As young kids shooting hoops in Poroti caught the sight of New Zealand basketball great Tom Abercrombie’s 1.98m stature making his way onto the courts at the Mangakahia Sports Complex, there was an impressed: “Woah, who’s that?”
Nearly 70 kids, aged 5 up to 16, turned out on Saturday to meet the celebrated Tall Black and Breakers player as he joined in the opening of the complex’s new community court.
Northland Basketball general manager Josh Port wished he’d had a camera on hand to record the special moment the kids spotted Abercrombie.
“They were all playing on the court then everyone just stopped. One of the kids went, ‘woah, who’s that’ and they all looked.”
The mixture of boys and girls hustled to get an even closer glimpse of the Kiwi legend who, Port said, “rocked up with a big smile on his face”.
For the next hour the kids shared the court with Abercrombie – he even brought Tall Black and Breakers singlets to give out.
Port said the new court was part of Northland Basketball’s pledge to provide the region with 100 rims and 50 backboards.
They’re now looking for funding or sponsorship to buy poles for the hoops.
“We want everyone who wants to play basketball to have the ability to play the sport in their own backyard,” Port said.
Before Abercrombie made his way to Poroti, he dropped in at a development tournament for under-11 and under-13 at McKay Stadium in Whangārei to speak to players and coaches of the eight teams from through-out the region.
“He was able to talk to them about where basketball is going and the importance of education and the role it plays in the bigger part of life.”
Port said Abercrombie drew on his own experience of receiving a scholarship deal with Washington State University to play college basketball in the United States.
Northland Basketball were excited by the weekend’s success, signalling the events were something they hoped to host “all the time” in the near future.