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New Zealand youngster Te Rangi breaks out for Breakers

REGENSBURG (David Hein's Eye on the Future) - Halloween night in Australia's NBL featured Reuben Te Rangi donning the custom as a seasoned basketball veteran. And the New Zealand Breakers forward definitely pulled it off.

With the club missing some key veterans, the 19-year-old Te Rangi stepped up off the bench and scored a career high 22 points though the three-time reigning NBL champion Breakers could not overcome a 22-point deficit in losing 96-93 to the Adelaide 36ers.

"He played like a man. He played like a veteran, not like a teenager. If that's how he's going, he's going to have a bright future in this league," said Breakers veteran Gary Wilkinson about Te Rangi, who only turned 19 on October 14.

Some may call Eye on the Future a Te Rangi homer, having written about him back in May 2012. But he had a big-time breakout against the 36ers - showing off an array of weapons.

While missing his first four three-pointers, Te Rangi did get on the scoring board with a drive to the lane and a putback off a miss from the weakside. He also continually got back on defense and was the Breaker gathering the team for huddles on the court.

Breakers coach Dean Vickerman ended up needing to play Te Rangi in the third quarter after the team's heart and soul Mika Vukona got ejected late in the first half and both Wilkinson and Tom Abercrombie were on the bench with foul trouble.

Te Rangi knocked down his fifth trey attempt with the Breakers trailing 59-37 at home. He went back-to-back and at the next timeout, 36ers coach Joey Wright said: "We got to watch the young fella a little bit. He's hit one so we gotta get out there and guard him."

The coach however still wanted Te Rangi's defender to help on doubles and not the defender covering veteran shooter Daryl Corletto.

Te Rangi made the 36ers coach pay for his tactics by nailing his third straight triple, giving him 15 points - two more than his previous career high. On the next possession, he drove past his man and then scored a layup over veteran big man Luke Schenscher.

Te Rangi was left uncontested in the right corner again and nailed his fourth consecutive three-pointer. After missing his next three-pointer, Te Rangi went to the bench and got a big hand from the crowd after hitting 14 points in the quarter and getting the Breakers back in the game.

Te Rangi returned to the game with six minutes left and missed a triple which would have tied the game. But he later had a cross-over dribble, driving layup, left-handed score to put the Breakers up 85-83. Te Rangi however gave his man too much space at the other end and watched as Anthony Petrie nail a triple to give Adelaide the lead back.

Te Rangi would end up missing two more three-pointers, including the shot at the buzzer down three points after the Breakers offense didn't execute the called play that well.

In total, it was an impressive showing by Te Rangi, who played 21 minutes and also had three offensive rebounds in the game.

"With Tommy (Abercrombie) having some foul trouble again, it gave Reuben an opportunity to show what he's capable of in this league and he was outstanding, stepping up like that," Vickerman said.

Te Rangi, as expected, was modest after the game and more disappointed about the loss than his good performance.

"We showed character in second half and will take that out of the game," he said.

"It's a team sport and I like to win.”

When asked if he did anything special, he added: "Not too sure, I just had some open looks and hit the shots and kept taking them."

Te Rangi is not an unknown in the basketball world. In addition to having played at the 2010 and 2012 Albert Schweitzer Tournaments, he also helped New Zealand win the inaugural 3x3 Youth World Championship in 2011 in Rimini, Italy.

Te Rangi also played for the New Zealand senior team at the 2013 FIBA Oceania Championship. In the first game against Australia, he went 1-of-5 from the field with three points in 17 minutes and then followed that up with five points on 2-of-9 shooting along with two rebounds and one steal in 20 minutes.

The young New Zealander returned to the usual bench role in the Breakers' next game with four points and one rebound in 12 minutes against the Wollongong Hawks. But Te Rangi has definitely left his mark.

As it turns out, that Halloween custom wasn't actually one at all. It was just Reuben Te Rangi in person in the break-out game of a talented young basketball player.

David Hein


FIBA's columnists write on a wide range of topics relating to basketball that are of interest to them. The opinions they express are their own and in no way reflect those of FIBA.

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