The Canterbury Knights will be heading across into Big V Country again!
The Canterbury Knights have accepted an invitation in the McKinnon Preseason Tournament in Melbourne, Australia over February 1-2 weekend. This is the second time the Knights have toured Melbourne, following on a successful trip against Big V clubs in February 2019. Canterbury is set to take on one NBL1 and three Big V Championship grade teams in the tournament, along with an additional match against Big V side Southern Peninsula on Tuesday 4 February to round out a busy week.
Melbourne has a wealth of semi professional clubs with over 50 teams. The four clubs that the Knights are pitted against in the tournament are the 2019 Big V Championship grade winner and host the McKinnon Cougars, Chelsea Gulls, Waverley Falcons (NBL1) and familiar foe Sunbury Jets. These clubs are able to field two imported players, but it isn’t sure if they will be in place for the preseason event. The Knights lost a close tussle with Sunbury last year which came down to the last possession. Since then Sunbury won the Big V Division 1 title and were promoted to the Championship grade for 2020. Current Knights Center Joel Jeffrey spent the season in Sunbury and will suit up for his home town Canterbury during this tour.
“I believe that our team approach will be crucial to success. We have a lot of great scorers so if we play together, it can be anyone producing in any given game. Defensive communication and effort will be huge factors as well. We aren’t the biggest team, so being in the right spot and competing hard defensively will help,” said Co-captain Marty Davison.
The team is proudly supported by James Dean – Mortgage Specialist, Frozen Direct, Robbie’s Riccarton, The Fitz and the Canterbury Basketball Association. 75 supporters gathered for a fundraiser at The Fitz last week and the team is determined to repay that support with some team-first play.
Returning to the Knights from last year’s Melbourne tour are Co-Captains and the emotional leaders of the group, Marty Davison and Derek Albertsen. Both have been a part of the resurgence of the Knights programme since 2016 and embrace the responsibility of setting the example on and off the court. Nick Erwood is another team stalwart that is returning to Melbourne and is now in his fourth year with the set-up. The guard-line is rounded out by Matt Mishchewski, Ben Hall and first year player Ihaia Kendrew. Jeffrey will link with Erwood in the forwards along with Jozef Knottenbelt and Sam Riley. The depth of the Canterbury Basketball Miles Toyota Premier league will be on display with six clubs represented.
“We have such a great group and they all play for each other. We are really excited to get over there and get on court. To have the opportunity to still play high level basketball that is just below the Sal’s NBL is something I still love and enjoy,” said Co-Captain Davison.
“This Knights are an opportunity to compete and play a high level of basketball. This trip also gives good talented players a chance to play alongside each other from our strong club basketball grades,” said Co-Captain Albertsen.
Some notable Knights from last year’s Melbourne tour who are plying their trade overseas are Taylor Britt, a development player for the Perth Wildcats and Brent Fisher who is playing in Germany.
The games will be available to watch via FIBA Live stats (thanks to Sharon Erwood) – links posted closer to the time (on this page), and the team is working on Facebook Live streaming through the Knights Facebook page.
The Knights’ name has a strong history in Canterbury Basketball, having won the 2003 NZ Conference Basketball League (2nd Division) and making the final four in 2004. The competition at this level below the NBL was in limbo for many years and the Knights were re-launched in 2016 and have been successful at National tournaments, finishing runner-up at the 2016 NZ National Basketball league Championship in Porirua, and winning the NZ HoopNation tournament in 2017 in Tauranga. In 2019 the Knights went 5-1 against Big V sides in Melbourne and defeated an Otago selection and the Southland Sharks in Preseason games later in March.
Canterbury Knights 2020 Melbourne Tour Roster:
1 Derek Albertsen, Guard (Co-Captain), 5th year with Knights, Atami
3 Ben Hall, Guard, 2nd, Lincoln
4 Marty Davison, Guard (Co-Captain), 5th, Pioneer
5 Nick Erwood, Forward, 4th, Pioneer
6 Matt Mischewski, Guard, 3rd, Gators
7 Ihaia Kendrew, Guard, 1st, Gators
10 Sam Riley, Forward, 1st, Checkers
11 Jozef Knottenbelt, Forward, 1st, Gators
21 Joel Jeffrey, Centre, 2nd, Atami
Coach: Piet Van Hasselt, 5th
Assistant Coach: Liam Connelly, 2nd
Performance Analyst: Fox Gray, 3rd
Manager/Stats: Sharon Erwood, 5th
Melbourne-Based Liaison: Jenny Bean, 2nd
McKinnon Tournament (all times NZ) – Glen Eira Sports and Aquatic Centre (GESAC )
Sat 1 Feb, 1.00pm, Chelsea Gulls
Sat 1 Feb, 5.30pm, McKinnon Cougars
Sun 2 Feb, 1.00pm, Waverley Falcons
Sun 2 Feb, 5.30pm, Sunbury Jets
Tue 4 Feb, 9.00pm, Southern Peninsula Sharks
Article Written by Piet Van Hasselt, some Photographs courtesy Arjan van Hasselt