Basketball bouncing into Tauranga this Easter

Players at the previous Mel Young Classic in 2019. Photo. Daniel Hines.

It won’t just be the Easter Bunny bouncing in Tauranga this weekend as more than 6000 basketball lovers embark on Tauranga for the annual Mel Young Easter Classic.

Tauranga City Basketball Association is hosting the Basketball Pacific run event again this year at six different venues across the city.

Trustpower Arena in Mount Maunganui will act as the main hub, with games also taking place at Mount Sports Centre, Queen Elizabeth Youth Centre, Tauranga Boys’ College, Tauranga Intermediate and Aquinas College.

First tip-off is at 8.30am on Good Friday, running all the way through until the evening on Easter Monday.

With 138 teams, from under-11 all the way to under-19 grades, the event is the largest representative tournament in the country. It shines a huge spotlight on basketball in the area, whilst also boosting the local economy with the influx of attendees.

“It is great for the city,” says event director and Tauranga City Basketball general manager Mark Rogers.

“There is about 6000 people coming to the city for the entire weekend spending money and enjoying the Bay, so hopefully we get some fine weather.”

It also means home court advantage for the 21 Tauranga City Basketball teams involved.

“It is great for the city and it is great for us because our teams get to play at home. It means their family and whanau can come and watch them play.”

The tournament has been running for 30 years and was renamed in honour of Mel Young in 2016.

Mel was the former vice president for Basketball New Zealand and the Hamilton native was a huge figure in Aotearoa basketball.

“Mel was one of the founders of Basketball Pacific,” explains Mark. “For me personally he was also a teacher of mine at high school.

“I worked with him, he was my basketball coach, so I had a lot of time with Mel. He was a great mentor for me.

“He did amazing things for basketball in New Zealand.”

Mel devoted much of his life toward the development of basketball in New Zealand before his death in 2015. Having his name attached to a tournament which has advancing the standards of basketball, across all fields, at the core of its ethos is certainly apropos.

“Mel was great for the sport and its development, the work he has done,” says Mark. “There is a heavy focus on development.

“We have referee education going on, coach education and it is all about development which is Basketball Pacific’s focus.”

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