ASH Karaitiana may have the biggest job in the SEABL ahead of her this weekend, but the Bendigo Braves guard’s confidence levels couldn’t be higher.
The sweet-shooting guard has translated a stellar New Zealand representative debut into two massive performances for the Bendigo Braves women in their run to this weekend’s grand final.
In two games since returning she has scored 27 and 17 points while also filling a key defensive role on the wing.
Karaitiana said the confidence she gained from her time spent with the New Zealand national team has been invaluable.
“It’s a bit of both confidence and knowing when I need to step up for the team,” she said.
“We have so many dominant players on our team and I think we all know what role we have to play but when I’m needed I’ll step up to the plate and I know that everyone else will too.”
She expects to get the unenviable task of guarding league MVP Lauren Nicholson, a matchup that will be a huge indicator of the fortunes of both teams.
“I’ll most likely have Nicholson or (Ally Wilson), but I think with them they have three really dominant players, so if we shut two of them down then one of them won’t beat us on their own,” Karaitiana said, referring to Nicholson, Wilson and point guard Lauren Mansfield.
“At the same time we have so many players and so much depth, I think they’ll need to take care of us and I don’t think they’ll be able to do that.”
Karaitiana also admits it will be nice to play in a title game alongside close friend and teammate Nadeen Payne, after winning a Queensland Basketball League championship with Brisbane by beating Payne’s Mackay side last year.
“We always said we would play together in the offseason, it’s much nicer to be playing with her than playing against her,” she said.
“I’m just not allowed to mention that she lost last year. But it’s been great to play with her and really the whole group has been amazing.”