Silverstream Basketball Comes of Age

Story courtesy of College Sport Media

The old gym at St Patrick’s College, Silverstream is so cold it’s known as Siberia.


It’s not uncommon to see condensation emerging from boys’ mouths on warm afternoons.


In 2014 the Father Peter Blake Memorial Gym opened. It was described by Tall Blacks legend Thomas Abercrombie as “the best gym in New Zealand.”


Unsurprisingly such a plush facility, in addition to seriously hard work and a shift in culture, has seen basketball explode at Silverstream.


In 2008 there were two teams. Today there are over a dozen competitive teams and a number of social teams.


On Friday night at the ASB Sports Centre in Kilbirnie, the Senior A’s won the Pohlen Trophy for the first time with a thrilling 78-75 victory over perennial contenders, Wellington College.


An estimated 3,000 spectators attended the game with a boisterous atmosphere surely unrivalled by any code.


Bronson Schmidt-Uili arrived at Silverstream from Cronulla in Year 10. He now stands 6 ft 8. In 2019 he was a part of the first Junior A Silverstream team to win the Wellington title.


Continuity and maturity was crucial in the crazy climax to the season. Silverstream’s Senior A roster was settled and prepared for most challenges.


“The final was really scrappy, but that’s pretty much what we expected,” Schmidt-Uili said.


“We knew the referees would be a bit more lenient with foul calls because it was the final.


“It was a massive atmosphere and the environment was pretty new, but having all the Stream boys there to push us was huge. When we were on edge, they helped us with their encouragement.”


The lead changed multiple times throughout. With a couple of minutes left, Silverstream appeared in control when leading 76-67.


Inexplicably Silverstream then missed four consecutive free-throws and Wellington College cut the deficit to a point with a dozen seconds to spare.


“Free throws have been killing us all season so it wasn’t the biggest surprise to see those misses,” Schmidt-Uili laughed.


“We just had to make a big basket or not foul them or let them shoot three. We went into a zone, played good defence, and got a board before Hassan (Munir) made a huge play.


“They had a couple of shooters, Fleix (Tulloch) and Murphy (Rogers) who got hot.”


Rogers was imperious with 32 points, Harry Zangoropolos had a strong match with 18 points, but Tulloch was reduced to just three points.


Silverstream’s scoring was more evenly distributed. Hassan Munir topped the charts with 18 points, captain Tomasi Pavihi chimed in with 15 points and Schmidt-Uli contributed 13.


Silverstream beat Wellington College three times in 2022 with a Schmidt-Uli buzzer beater the difference in the previous clash.


“We had four players out with sickness and were down by 20 in the third quarter. They had a massive support crew and we had the Senior B’s after they finished their game.


“I got the inbound with a second left after we ran our usual play at the top of the key. I just backed up and let it go and in-she went. It was unreal.”


The Silverstream Senior B and C teams also won their respective finals on Friday night, following in the footsteps of the Junior A’s who claimed championship honours for the third time in four years.


Terry Stallworth (Co-Founder of Hoop Club) is in his second year coaching the Senior A’s, and has been involved with the junior program.


Longtime teacher Reuben Pivac has been a tireless advocate of the sport, implementing the philosophy: “Ehara tāku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini” – My strength is not as an individual, but rather than as a collective.


The first records of basketball at Silverstream don’t appear until 1965, and that was as an evening activity for boarders.


Though there were periods of achievement, sustained success proved challenging at a rugby mad college.


In the last decade Senior A highlights include: The inaugural victory over Rongotai College in 2012, the first Premier final against St Patrick’s College Town in 2013, and a maiden traditional win over Wellington College in 2014, a year Silverstream qualified for their first Nationals. Hurricanes winger Salesi Rayasi and Wellington Saints captain Kenneth Tuffin were members of the side. Pivac helped oversee it all.


This week Silverstream is competing in the Zone 3 Regional tournament where they were finalists in 2019.


Silverstream has already qualified for Nationals in October but won’t have Schmidt-Uili. He’s bound for Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, a leading American high school that has produced NBA superstars like Carmelo Anthony and Rajon Rondo.