MATILDA Flood is a basketballer who enjoys a challenge, so rather than being daunted about the prospect of facing some of the nation’s best at the Under 20s Australian Junior Championships, she’s excited.
At 17, Flood is one of nine bottom-age players selected in the NSW team selected for next month’s nationals in Canberra.
The 10-player team draws on talents from both country and metropolitan competitions, Flood gaining her selection by impressing across three training camps in Sydney.
“They were very tough and with the hot weather it makes it that much harder … it’s pretty intense, we don’t have that many camps before nationals so they push us hard,” she said.
“I always give back as much as I can during the selection process because they don’t judge you on what you’ve previously achieved, they judge you on what they’re seeing right now. I know have to give my best because they won’t take my past success into account.”
While selectors did not look at Flood’s resume when deciding on the team for nationals, the Bathurst teenager will be drawing on her past experiences to help her.
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She has previously played at both under 16 and under 18 nationals, has represented her state on a school level, won a Women’s State League title in 2017 and made the All Star Five for that competition as well.
“One hundred percent playing State League gives you confidence. Playing with the older women, they’re rougher, they don’t hold back, because they are not as fast as you they turn to physicality,” she said.
“But it definitely makes you a lot tougher and stronger.”
While competing at under 18s level gives Flood an idea of what to expect in Canberra, she knows stepping up to under 20s level at nationals for the first time will be tough.
However, it is a challenge she is looking forward to with Flood and her NSW team-mates keen to be in medal contention.
“I played the top age girls in under 18s, but it’s been awhile since I played them. They have all been playing at their unis since then and some of them in the WNBL [Women’s National Basketball League], so it’s definitely going to be a massive step up,” she said.
“It’s so good to play them because their skill level is great, it’s fun to play against those kind of people.
“Winning is always the goal for us, but that’s not what we are going to be 100 percent focusing on. We want to have fun and try our best, winning a gold medal is something everyone always wants.
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“Victoria has two teams and their first team is basically like WNBL and AIS and their second team is like the reserves. The reserves are going to be a challenge enough, let alone their top team.
“But places like Canberra and South Australia are always tough too.”
Flood will not be the only Bathurst Goldminer looking for success at nationals, with Will Cranston-Lown picked in the NSW under 20 men’s outfit.
His team is packed with talent and coach Michael Cassidy expects a strong showing, saying it’s an “exciting team we believe that we will be able to compete with the best.”
The titles run from February 13-17 in Canberra.