By Maddison Molenaar 22/3/16 Basketball
New Zealand based basketball league side the Supercity Rangers have added domestic cricket player Tipene Friday to their 2016 roster.
After recovering from a back injury, the fast bowler was meant to return to cricket in the English domestic league. To maintain his fitness, he began attending practice sessions with the Auckland based Supercity Rangers side.
“I knew their coach. They needed a big man so I came down and had a couple of training sessions”, said Friday.
Friday, a former junior Tall Black representative and high school basketball player, had last played basketball six years prior. Rangers coach Jeff Green had been familiar with Friday through high school basketball and was impressed with what he saw.
“He turned up around six weeks ago for practice”, said Green.
“He had the one, or two nights of practice and he was brilliant and played really well.”
After Fridays move to English cricket fell through, Green then decided to take a chance on the 25-year-old fast bowler.
“Three weeks ago he turned up and said I’m not going back to England”.
“I said great, we’d love to have you.”
Coach Jeff Green also pointed out Fridays basketball IQ as a reason he wanted him as a rostered player.
“He’s a pretty intelligent player, those first two practices he came to he picked everything up straight away.”
Fellow Rangers player and point guard Brook Ruscoe, a high school friend of Fridays, was also quick to praise his transition back into basketball and at times help him out.
“He’s just a niggly player and brings a bit of ticker (heart) to the training so he’s fitting in real well”, said Ruscoe.
Friday also believes his background in cricket has made the transition back to basketball easier, identifying fitness and footwork as keys to both games.
“You also use a ball, and catch a ball, so your hand-eye co-ordination needs to be pretty good”
At the conclusion of the current New Zealand basketball league season, Friday will be heading back to cricket where he will be representing the Dunedin based Otago Volts side in the New Zealand domestic competition.
CHANGING CODES: Tipene Friday (centre) donning the Supercity Rangers uniform for the 2016 season.