The BNZ Kāhu will head into this season’s Tauihi Aotearoa in the knowledge that Tahlia Tupaea, the competition’s 2022 MVP, will again be suiting up for the club.
Tupaea was outstanding last season averaging 18.2 points (4th overall in the league), 4.3 assists (3rd overall) and 2.8 steals (1st overall).
Penrith born, with Tainui-Ngāti Tipa descent and extended family living in the Waikato, the 170cm guard is looking forward to the upcoming season.
“I’m excited to come back. I’ve had a lot of support from my family as well as the team and the organization so it feels good to be returning to a family environment.
“The League ran really well last season, especially for a first year. It was a relatively quick season so it also catered for the players who wanted to play overseas. I’m looking forward to being part of the second season and seeing how it all works out.”
Having represented Australia team at junior age-group level Tupaea played for the Kāhu as an import last season.
However being a dual passport holder and having a Kiwi dad FIBA have recently deemed her eligible to play for the New Zealand Tall Ferns.
FIBA’s decision is a win-win for Tupaea and the Kāhu. For the Kāhu it frees up one of the three restricted player spots and for the sharp shooting Tupaea it opens up the chance to play senior international basketball, an opportunity she is looking forward to.
“It gives me the opportunity to represent the other side of my family and my culture.”
She expressed that she enjoyed her first Tall Ferns experience at the national team’s Selection Camp at Pulman Arena in early May.
“It was real fun mixing with all the girls and the staff at the camp.”
Growing up in Sydney Tupaea enjoyed an outstanding junior career playing for Australian teams at three World Championships. She played at the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championships in the Czech Republic and the U19 World Champs in Lithuania (2013) and Russia (2015), winning a bronze medal on both occasions.
She became the second youngest debutant in the history of the Australian Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) when she took the court for the Sydney University Flames in 2012 at 15 years and 133 days.
Two years later she was a key member of the Flames WNBL championship winning team and in 2017 was the 36th pick by the Minnesota Lynx in the 2017 WNBA draft.
She has played 140 Australian WNBL games, most recently for 2022 semi-finalists Canberra Capitals and is currently playing for Penrith Panthers in the Australian NBL1 East League.