NBA

Top young talent reach world heights at NBA Basketball Without Borders camp in Canberra

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For 60 high school students from across Asia and the Pacific, it was the chance of a lifetime.

The teenagers, all talented basketball players, came to Canberra for four days of intense training this week, hoping to rise to the top leagues in the world.

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The NBA is one of the richest and most watched competitions on the planet, and it is hosting Basketball Without Borders camps around the world this year for the first time since the pandemic began.

This year’s camp for the Asia region was held at the ACT’s Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), where the NBA has one of its global academies. The camp involved girls and boys from 15 countries.

Carlin Briggs (center) wants to be a role model for young Aboriginal players.(ABC News: Matt Roberts)

Victorian Carlin Briggs was among them, relishing the chance to play with and against some of the best young players in the world.

The 17-year-old said having four NBA players at camp as mentors and coaches was invaluable.

“All of these guys are where I want to be in the future, so I was trying to ask a lot of questions, pick their brains,” he said.

Carlin, a man from Yorta-Yorta and Wurundjeri, said one of his main motivations was to be a role model in his community.

“It’s a big thing for me to represent my people, my culture,” he said.

“I just want to continue to pave the way for young Indigenous kids.”

Two young men are playing basketball on an indoor court.
Carlin Briggs (left) says the camp experience has been invaluable.(ABC News: Matt Roberts)

Carlin already had a connection with the AIS before the camp.

Her father Tony Briggs – who created the musical The Sapphires – won an athletic scholarship as a young man.

“He always talked about it growing up, and it’s amazing to be able to follow in his footsteps and come here myself – it’s truly an honor,” Carlin said.

Australia’s top flight is on the rise

The photo centers on a man in a shirt and sweatpants standing on a basketball court with others.
Australian Josh Green (center) now plays in the NBA for the Dallas Mavericks.(ABC News: Matt Roberts)

Josh Green is one of the few Australian players to break into the NBA.

The 21-year-old guard, who plays for the Dallas Mavericks, attended one of the NBA’s Without Borders camps in 2018.

He said the camp was a pivotal moment in his career.

“I went into [that] camp not really knowing what to expect – I was a younger guy, I really loved basketball and it was awesome,” he said.

“It’s brought a lot of these international kids together and played the game that we all love.”

A man in a white shirt is surrounded by basketball players wearing red tops, all of whom listen to him speak.
Phoenix Suns forward Cameron Johnson (center) coaches young players at AIS.(ABC News: Matt Roberts)

He joined the Canberra side this year – now as a coach – along with three other NBA stars: Cleveland Cavaliers star center Jarret Allen, Phoenix Suns forward Cameron Johnson and Chicago Bulls goalkeeper Coby White .

Green said it was surreal to mentor the next generation of talent after recently being a camper himself.

“I used to dream of being in the AIS when I was a kid, so it’s cool to be here now as a coach.”

A woman wearing a basketball top smiles at the camera.
Queensland teenager Lulu Laditan was the camp’s most valuable player.(ABC News: Matt Roberts)

The campers were an equal mix of men and women.

Queenslander Lulu Laditan, 17, won the Most Valuable Player award.

She said playing with athletes from so many countries presented challenges, but was an exciting experience.

“It’s been good learning to communicate in other ways when playing,” she said.

“But when we play, it’s really good to learn how other people play from different countries – like their styles, if they want to play fast or if they want to slow down.”

Several former WNBA and Women’s National Team players coached at the camp, which Lulu says left a lasting impression.

“It’s an incredible opportunity to learn so much from Australia’s top athletes who have played internationally overseas.”

Two women wearing different colors are playing on a basketball court.
Lulu Laditan (left) says the camp’s international mix has helped her learn more.(ABC News: Don Sheil)

Canberra Academy is already bearing fruit

Chris Ebersole, the NBA’s head of elite basketball, oversaw the establishment of the Canberra World Academy in 2017.

He said the NBA has recruited several academy graduates in recent years, which puts it well ahead of schedule to develop world-class players.

“The fact that Josh Giddey was our first pick in the NBA draft two years ago, and then this year has two, with Ben Mathurin and Dyson Daniels in this year’s lottery, it’s a sign that things are working. and hopefully a sign that things will continue to grow.”

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