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MICAELA COCKS REFLECTS ON TAUIHI CAMPAIGN

Updated: Oct 4, 2022


Tall Ferns legend Micaela Cocks has added another award to her long and illustrious resume after being named to the Tauihi Basketball Aotearoa All-Star Five.

The North Shore native averaged 18.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.3 steals on 45.3% shooting from the field and 45.1% from beyond the three-point arc during a season that has exceeded her expectations.


“Playing in the league has been one of the highlights of my career because of how much fun I’ve had. I didn’t realise how good it would feel playing back in New Zealand.”


This endorsement, from New Zealand’s most decorated female basketball player, is music to the ears of Tauihi administrators, players and fans alike.


Our most capped Tall Fern of all time has played at the 2008 Olympics, two Commonwealth Games, four Pac 12 Tournaments for the University of Oregon Ducks and three Australian WNBL Grand Final finals in a 10-year career with the Townsville Fire.


For Cocks, this weekend’s GJ Gardner Homes Tauihi Basketball Aotearoa Final 4 will be her first championship run on New Zealand soil in 16 years.


The profile of the women’s elite competition is somewhat different to that she last experienced back in 2006, when Cocks was named MVP of the Women’s Conference Basketball (WCB) League after leading Auckland to the title.


Back then there was no sign of live television coverage, national media interest or players on paid contracts.


She admits that her memories of that occasion are rather vague although she does recall the opposition Harbour Breeze lineup included current Northern Kāhu head coach Jody Cameron.


Fast forward to the present and Cocks has absolute clarity about Tauihi Basketball Aotearoa.


“We are now well ahead of the game and it’s really good for New Zealand basketball that we have this league.


“The competition is good and the games are close. Viewers want to see close games – no one wants to see blowouts.


“It’s been really pleasing to see the quality of the New Zealand players and their competitive spirit on the court.”


Looking ahead Cocks would like to see an extra team or two added to the Tauihi competition and perhaps a tweaking of the play-off format.


“This has been a good starting point and I understand you can’t get ahead of yourself so I feel it’s been a smart decision to start with five teams.


“It would be really good to have a best-of-three Grand Final series rather than just a one off game. I understand that it’s probably a financial decision at this stage but it would be good to build up to that.


“Kāhu finished top this season but there is no major advantage or reward heading into the finals.”


With her vast reservoir of experience the multiple championship winner will be delivering some advice to her teammates, especially the less experienced squad members, ahead of the Final 4.


“We touched on it after our last game (against Mainland Pouākai). We enjoyed that win but now we are headed into crunch time and the rest of the season doesn’t matter now.


“It’s now about focusing on all the little things and the process. Defence will be important – making sure we have the necessary intensity.


Cocks has a phrase she likes to use in preparation for the play-offs:


“Be energy givers not energy takers.”


One Kāhu player giving plenty of energy, albeit from the bench, is Ashleigh Kelman-Poto. Ashleigh was forced to stop playing mid-season as she is expecting her second child later in the year.

She has publicly stated her intention to resume her playing career after childbirth with Cocks 100% behind her teammate, believing motherhood has benefitted her career .


“She most definitely can, Ash can come back better and stronger if she puts the work in. I think she has the personality and determination to do it. That’s reflected in the fact that, although not playing, she is still training with us.”


“My mindset has changed a lot since having Hazel. I’m a lot more relaxed and not over thinking things.


The 36 year-old also believes her fitness and outlook have played a big part in the outstanding form she has shown this season.


“I don’t feel old at all,” stated the 36 year-old.


“I don’t know if it’s because I’ve always maintained a high level of fitness and never had any bad injuries but I feel good and believe age is just a number.


“I feel like I’m still able to perform.”


All those associated with Northern Kāhu and Tauihi basketball will agree with those sentiments.

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