Baking Gold – Tawa Tracking Strongly for Repeat Success
Porirua is a hotbed of Wellington sporting talent with countless personalities enjoying success at the national and international levels. In 2020 a new generation of Porirua athletes are making waves at high school and may one day themselves become household names. College Sport Wellington went on tour to meet some of these outstanding young talents.
Tawa College won the Pohlen Cup basketball championship for the first time last year, overpowering a talented Scots College 96-79 in the final.
Despite a delayed start to the 2020 season, Tawa has burst out of the gates like a freight train determined to show 2019 was no fluke.
In grading games, Tawa beat Scots College (102-64), St Patrick’s College, Silverstream (134-52), and Rongotai College (106-61).
Tawa has assembled a roster arguably stronger than their pioneering cohort. Key leader Malachi Collins returns and Sam Gold is back from a broken neck, an injury where he struggled to be “functional” at times and took the best part of eight months to recover from.
The six-foot-seven guard has top-scored in the last two games with 29 and 25 points respectively. The past 12 months have been bitter-sweet.
“Last year was hard to watch. I was obviously happy for the boys, but I’m desperate to be out there and contribute,” he said.
Point guard Daniel Baker is a new face. He comes from the winning Junior A squad and has been training for seven months. How will he slot in?
“Our team will be quicker this year. We don’t have the same height or size, but we’ll look to be smarter and more aggressive,” Baker responded.
“My favourite player is LeBron James. I love his all-court approach,” he continued.
Gold agreed Tawa will be “more team orientated” and that will be essential if they’re to improve on their disappointing 17th place at Nationals last year. The top two teams at the end of the Wellington round robin will automatically qualify for Nationals.
Sam’s brother Ben Gold was the 2019 College Sport Wellington Basketball player of the year and a member of the Tawa team last year. He was the first Kiwi to be selected to the NBA Global Academy in Canberra based at the Australian Institute of Sport.
Through Basketball New Zealand, a trio of Kiwi players were invited to try out for the Academy in October. Gold was invited back for a second trial in November. That opportunity involved a two-week all-expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas. Ben has just returned to Australia after a spell at home during the lockdown.
Another brother Thomas was training with the Wellington Saints before lockdown. Father Rob Gold is the coach of the Tawa team this year and is on the board of Basketball New Zealand while Mum Sharon Burridge was a Silver Fern.
Baker identified Scots College, Mana College, and St Patrick’s College, Silverstream as perhaps the biggest threat to Tawa’s title.
-Story courtesy of College Sport Media