The SKYCITY Breakers have completed their 2017/18 roster with today’s news of Jordan Ngatai signing to the fulltime roster, and confirmation of the three-man development unit.
Developing and identifying talent and forging a strong player pathway has long played a huge part in the success of the SKYCITY Breakers, and the naming of a trio of development players for the upcoming season reflects that along with the increasing depth of talent in the country, with Tall Black point guard Derone Raukawa headlining the group this season.
Mitchell Newton (former Southland Shark now playing in Australia), Daniel Fotu (Rangitoto College) and Raukawa (Southland Sharks), will be part of the roster throughout the season.
All bring immense potential and in the case of Raukawa an already burgeoning CV. The 22-year-old has, like Ngatai, just returned from the FIBA Asia Cup, impressing in his backup role with vital points and a high energy game off the bench for the national team.
“I am very thankful again to be part of the team for a second, year, it was a great family environment to be part of and I am stoked to be involved again. I see myself playing fulltime pro, this is my last year as a development player and I am definitely shooting for a pro contract in the future.
“Tall Blacks helps with Pauli being coach as well, we have had some conversations and I thought my role was good in the Tall Blacks this year, I will come into the Breakers and try to be the same player.
Newton is a product of Southland, and first appeared on the national scene with the Sharks in the 2013 NBL, ironically under the then coaching of current SKYCITY Breakers Head Coach Paul Henare, earning 31 appearances over three seasons, before he decided to try his luck in Australia, where he has been playing in the SEABL with Albury.
“I'm from a small town called Gore, I did all of my schooling there before I then moved to Invercargill after I finished school for two years. I started playing when I was about 14 or 15, I didn't make a lot of teams. It wasn't until I was 17 and was a development player for the Sharks I started taking it seriously.
“This means everything really. I remember writing it down for one of my goals back in school, and people laughed at me when I said it. What I want to get out of the season is just to learn as much as I can and work as hard as I can to get better.”
The third and youngest of the three is Dan Fotu, younger brother of Tall Black Isaac and sister Ella, Fotu has long been identified as an exciting prospect, and it was only a knee injury that kept him from representing New Zealand at the recent FIBA U19 World Championships in Egypt.
Fotu will take up a non-contracted role, maintaining his amateur status for the American College opportunities that lie ahead.
“I started taking basketball seriously when I first got the chance in the Breakers Academy, working with Judd (Flavell) and Lawrence (Lianda). This opportunity showed myself that if I work hard with the Breakers, there were new goals I could set and places I can go in the game.
“My oldest brother Isaac has been the biggest influence and is the reason I am playing basketball. He opened my eyes to the lifestyle you can live and the places you can go through basketball. Then my sister Ella again showed that pathway and how exciting challenging and fun pursuing basketball can be.”
With the roster finalized, the entire team (including imports) will assemble in the next week to begin pre-season training ahead of the NBL Blitz (just outside Melbourne) early in September, before the Breakers host Melbourne United on a two-game pre-season tour in Hawke’s Bay and New Plymouth.
The SKYCITY Breakers will also host the Brisbane Bullets in a just confirmed pre-season game at Tauranga, on Sunday 27th September, tip off 7pm. The game will be hosted by Tauranga based HoopNation and will be played at ASB Baypark Arena.
The opening game of the season is on Sunday, October 8 against Cairns Taipans at Spark Arena, tip off at 5pm.
SKYCITY Breakers 2017/18 Roster: Alex Pledger, centre; Rob Loe, centre; James Hunter, forward; Mika Vukona, forward; Finn Delany, forward; Tom Abercrombie, swingman; Kirk Penney, guard; Shea Ili, guard; Edgar Sosa (Dominican Republic), guard; DJ Newbill (USA), guard, Jordan Ngatai, forward; Derone Raukawa, guard (development contract); Mitchell Newton, forward (development contract); Daniel Fotu, forward (non-contracted development player).