Grant’s anxiety now eagerness to show what he can do

Qatar, here we come ... George Grant throws a pass at the Edgar Centre as he counts down to an...
Qatar, here we come ... George Grant throws a pass at the Edgar Centre as he counts down to an exciting overseas trip. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
George Grant has certainly proved he can be patient.

The 17-year-old went to his first New Zealand basketball camp in 2019 with an eye to making his national age-grade team debut.

Then the pandemic hit, MIQ became part of entering the country and New Zealand’s presence on the international basketball scene became non-existent.

That has not dissuaded Grant, though.

The 1.88m guard has kept at the grind - training or playing every day, sometimes twice a day.

All that effort has finally been rewarded.

Grant has been named in the New Zealand team to play at the under-17 Asia Cup in Qatar in June after it was postponed from last year.

If the team finishes in the top four there, it has a short turnaround to go to the world championships in Spain two weeks later.

He admits it was slightly daunting at first when he received the selection email while at Otago Boys’ High School where he is a year 13 pupil.

Over time, that has turned into excitement and an eagerness to get going.

‘‘I’m pretty excited,’’ he said.

‘‘I was a little bit anxious to start with. I didn’t know what the other teams would bring. I didn’t think I was that deserving to start with. Then it started to sink in and I felt pretty good about it.’’

Grant had been to a camp with the team in Auckland over the school holidays.

Understanding what the coaches wanted and maximising his ability in his role would be focuses over the coming weeks.

‘‘I’ve been told I’ll be coming off the bench for a large portion of the games.

‘‘I’ll be just trying to bring energy to the group, bringing a bit of spark off the bench. Just talking on defence, get everyone hyped.

‘‘I’ll be trying to improve on those things in Magic [club] games, school games and if I go to any rep tournaments. I just need to keep those things a priority.’’

Grant will be playing for the Mid City Magic in men’s A grade this year.

He played for the City Rise Bombers last year and, while he enjoyed that season, he feels the Magic will help him develop faster before he leaves.

Towards the end of last season, he showed his ability as an outside shooter against Dunedin’s best players and he said it had been worthwhile playing at the higher level.

‘‘I feel like it was a bit of a challenge, something I needed.

‘‘I think I was getting a bit too comfortable playing high school. When you get to men’s club, it’s just a lot faster.

‘‘The ball moves so much quicker and the players are so much better, you have to elevate your game to replicate what they’re bringing.

‘‘I feel like it’s pretty healthy. I’m just loving it, getting around the boys.’’

Grant intends to remain in New Zealand to go to university next year, and making the Otago Nuggets is a big goal.

jeff.cheshire@odt.co.nz

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