A pair of Richmond basketball standouts are taking their club season to the Jr. NBA Global Canadian Finals next week in Toronto.
Marina Radocaj and Caitlin Kippan helped the U14 VK Basketball team secure the West Regional berth with a dominating 83-23 victory over Alberta last weekend at the Langley Events Centre.
Both girls came through the Richmond Youth Basketball League and stepped up as Grade 8s to have signifiant roles in helping the McMath Wildcats senior girls team advance to the B.C. “AAA” Championships back in March.
The Canadian Finals start next Thursday and will feature regional teams from Atlantic (Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island), East (New Brunswick, Quebec), Prairies (Manitoba, Saskatchewan) and host Ontario.
At stake will be the opportunity to represent Canada at the Jr. NBA Global Championship — Aug. 6-11 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Fla. That competition will contain a field of eight U.S. regional representatives and eight international regions (Africa, Asia Pacific, Canada, China, Europe and Middle East, Latin America and Mexico) for both the boys’ field and the girls’ field.
A year ago, Radocaj aged up to help VK Basketball reach the Canadian final, only to come up just short against Ontario. She was still named the game’s MVP and would like nothing more than to secure the trip to Florida this time.
“Every single time I practised with this team, I told them, I want to get back and I don’t want to lose again, I want to go to Orlando,” said Radocaj following last Saturday’s victory. “This was the only thing I focused on since the start of the (club) season.”
In the West Regional Final, VK rattled off the first dozen points and led 27-1 after one quarter. Alberta did not reach double digits until it hit a pair of free throws to open the second half. Kippan led the winners with a game-high 18 points.
“They are talented kids and it is pretty easy for us as coaches when you have that much talent to work with,” said VK’s Paul Langford, who coaches the team alongside his brother Bruce. “All these kids come from really good basketball programs, a lot of them have played in VK for the last few of years, they have had good coaching.”