National basketball honour for Warrnambool teenager

WARRNAMBOOL basketball coach Tony Gall and teen sensation Annie Blackburn will again team up on the national stage.

Gall has the reins of the 10-member Victoria Country under 18 girls’ team, which will contest national championships in Brisbane from April 18 to 28.

Annie, 16, will play as a shooting guard in the team. It is the third time she has represented Victoria Country.

Gall said Victoria Country would enter the tournament with an experienced team which featured seven top-age players.

Six of the seven have played at nationals at least twice.

“There are two pools of seven or eight. Our first goal is to finish in the top two of our pool,” he said.

“If we finish in the top two, that’ll put us into the medal rounds. Our first goal is to finish one or two and from there, whatever game you get into you’re trying to win.

“We’re very long through our guard position and through our small forward position. By long I mean good height, good arm length and athleticism.

“We’ve got a couple of girls who are 6’1” (185.5cm) and 6’2” (188cm) and a couple who are in the six-foot (183cm) area and we’re extremely quick.”

Gall backed Annie to have a bumper tournament.

The Emmanuel College student represented Australia at the under 17 girls’ world championships in the Netherlands last year.

She also helped Victoria Country win a silver medal in 3x3 basketball at the Australian Youth Olympics Festival in Sydney last month.

“Annie is one of those kids who trains the hardest out of anybody. It was never a fait accompli for her to get chosen, she kept working hard,” Gall said.

“Annie can play WNBL if she wants to. She can play with the Opals if she wants to.

“Her body type and her athleticism is at that level. It’s a matter of if Annie wants to do those things.

“She has the natural ability and skill level. It’s up to her.”

Annie’s selection comes a week after 202cm Laang hoopster Liam Killey won selection for the Victoria Country under 18 boys’ squad.

afawkes@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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