Storm exceed expectations on debut
Images by Roshi Sportfolio
The Southland Storm capped a successful debut on the national stage with an eighth-place finish at the National D-League tournament at Eventfinda Stadium in Auckland this week, following a 76-56 loss to Taranaki on Saturday.
Coach Burt Tobia, who led the Storm management team alongside assistant Richard Hamilton and manager Moira Tinnock was delighted with the performance of his charges in their first appearance in a tournament setting.
“I think it’s really encouraging for Southland to have a team at this level and to get up here and for the athletes to see what playing at this level is all about. Compared to down home, the level of play steps up and the level of competition steps up so that’s been really encouraging just to get them some exposure to that level of competition,” Tobia said.
While always confident of a strong showing, the coach believes the Storm has exceeded expectations in qualifying for the top eight.
“I definitely thought we could get minimum one win in our pool having looked at the rosters, even thought they kept changing leading into tournament. Once we got Northland under our belt (84-58) we were able to target Tauranga (winning 88-64 to qualify directly for the top eight) and that was a favourable draw which did then mean we went into some tough cross-over games.”
“We hit Canterbury in the quarters and played quite well but just the physicality of the game stepped up and we got better at that but too late to get a result so that was a great lesson for the future for us,” he said.
Tobia was full of praise for the way his players lifted across the board to earn an outstanding team result.
“With basketball it tends to be a team effort, and everyone stepped up when needed. I think with greater depth and more of a build-up we could have perhaps really taken it to the Canterburys and Waikatos who we crossed over with. Canterbury is a team we play on occasions being from the South Island but being able to come up against teams the calibre of Waikato really helps us know where we should be.”
“For our players to get on court and now know we can foot it at this level, they now think ‘I can handle myself and do my job’ and I think it’s a great eye opener for us all that we have set the tone and competed the way we did this week. We weren’t outclassed and showed we were worthy of being here,” Tobia said.
The key focus now is to build off the strong start the Storm has made this week.
“It’s such a good vocal point for the women’s game down home for athletes to be able to aim for and say, ‘I can work my way towards that.’ We are breaking new ground with this campaign, so we are learning and building some really great foundations to help lay out the programme for future years,” Tobia said.
The Storm would like to again thank its incredible family of sponsors and community funders who have made this campaign possible including the Invercargill Licensing Trust and Community Trust South along with Hamilton Brothers Building, the Mataura Licensing Trust, McCallums Group, Amtec Electrical, the Batch Café, Frontline Training, Romahapa Fencing, ILT Stadium Southland, Shamrock Farms Trust and Versatile Homes and Buildings.
The team also recognises Rebecca Heads and Laura Jackson, two members of the squad who due to medical or family reasons were unable to attend the tournament. The team emphasised how important those two also were as part of the Storm family and team.
Southlanders will next see a Storm side in action on home court at ILT Stadium Southland as part of the Schick 3X3 Cup from 12 to 15 October.