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------------------------------------Basketball
Rachel Herrick SLAM DUNKIN' TIME: These Westfields basketballers are off to the US.
Westfields set to
put US in basket
By KYLIE STEVENS

To take on the Americans at their own game on their home turf is a daunting task.
But players have sacrificed their school holidays and taken up the challenge to slam-dunk the strongest basketball nation in the world.
This Friday, 14 boys from years 9-11 will fly out to Florida for a three week tour, playing 10 games against American High Schools.
Watching an NBA game is scheduled on the jam-packed itinery.
It is the eighth time Westfields basketball co-ordinator Bernie Slatery has organised an overseas tour.
"As a sports high school, part of the experience is an overseas tour to reap the bedefite of the sport," he said.
"It's also a cultural experience. Basketball was born in America, so we're up against some very tough competition. Over there, sport is played through high schools. not clubs.
"It's a very strong basketball nation, so we're up against some stiff competition. Some of these teams for three hours every day, so they are very skilled and disciplined."
Westfields has just returned from the national schools tournament in Melbourne, where they placed fifth.
Team basketballers Chris Neal and Alex Opacic are already on their way to reaching the top.
The pair have scholarships with NBL side West Sydney Razorbacks, while Opacic has also been granted an Australian Institute of Sport scholarship in Canberra next year.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunityfor the boys," Slatery said.
"It's a chance to be up against strong competition, to look at who can stand the test and who has got a chance of making it. We have a few good-sized lads who, if they play well enough, could attract a bit of attention over there."
Basketballers Chris Neal and David Nattrass are excited about the challenge ahead. Nattrass said.
"It's great to be able to play the top teams in America, where it is such a high standard," "The games over there are big events played in front of huge crowds and the style of the game is much different."
Neal added: "We just want to play well and win as many games as possible."


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Wednesday 31st December 2003.

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