Pirate junior, 17 year old Zitina Aukuso has caught the attention of basketball coaches around the world since a video of her dunking at a recent U19 All Australian camp was posted on Youtube. (see below) They don't come more creditialled than the Opal's Head Coach, Brendan Joyce. Brendan was at the the Australian Junior Championships in Ipswich last week, scouting for the next generation of potential Opals players. Zitina's performances, combined with her amazing athletic abilities have been enough to convince Joyce to offer Zitina a place in the 2016 squad in Basketball Australia's Centre of Excellence based at the Australian Institute of Sport. Not only will Zitina work with Joyce and COE coach Paul Goriss but she will have access to all the off court support structures that only the AIS can provide.
Zitina played in a young Pirates SBL playoff team last season and doubled up in a few QBL games when needed. Pirate QBL women's head coach and former Opal, Fiona Hannan and Pirate's assist coach and former AIS coach, Nikki Bairstow were looking forward to working with Zitina for the 2016 QBL season. However they are excited for her and where this opportunity could take her.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for such a truly gifted athlete. We hope Zitina can come back and have a full season with the Pirates at some point in the future. We will be following her progress with great interest. With our Pirate's program, Zitina's opportunity provides another opportunity for the next player to step up!" said Hannan