Craigieburn’s AJ Magbegor represented Victoria at the first basketball championships of the year as part of the under-18 boy’s team.
Magbegor, who regularly plays for Coburg, was one of nine Victorian National Performance (VNPP) athletes in the team, alongside Kristian Ferronato and Beau Tranter.
Magbegor said the championships were a great learning experience.
“To be able to represent my state in basketball and play the best players from around Australia was a really big highlight for me,” he said.
“Having missed out in the previous year because of lockdown, it felt great being back on the court competing against top teams.
“Seeing the large crowds was really enjoyable because it really gave me even more energy to go all out and leave everything on the court.
“My teammates and coaches really made that week special to me, I learnt a lot from my experience there.”
The 2020 Australian Junior Championships for under-18s were unable to go ahead due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 2021 championships were held in Wyndham in mid-April.
Magbegor said he was “relieved” when he found out he had been chosen for the team following such a tough year.
“When I was picked for the team… my body felt lighter,” Magbegor said.
“There were a lot of players who tried out and could’ve been picked, so to have been recognised made me feel like all the hard work has really paid off.”
Magbegor said he was disappointed the overall team result was not strong.
“I felt as if our team was capable of making it further than we did, so coming short really wasn’t the result I wanted,” he said.
“For me though, it was a learning experience to know that things don’t always turn out the way you picture them.
“Although we didn’t win the gold medal, it really showed me what I have to work on, I’m grateful for the experience.”
Magbegor has been around successful basketball players for a long time, as the brother of Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) star Ezi Magbegor and Eltham Wildcats Basketball Club’s Ovie Magbegor.
Ezi has played for WNBL’s Melbourne Boomers since the 2018-19 season. She has an average point score of 15.4 per game.
Ovie previously represented the University of West Georgia’s Wolves basketball team. As a freshman, he played in 25 games and averaged 3.4 points per game.
“My family members said they were proud of me making the team and also proud of my efforts I put into the training and the championship as well.
“Each of them made it feel special for me having made the state team.
“The support was great all around and had been very beneficial.”
Magbegor said in looking to the future, he has his sights set high.
“I look to make the state team again next year and also the Australian team as well.
“Long term, I want to make it to the NBA.
“I will work very hard to make my dream become a reality.
“It won’t be easy but I’ll keep at it.”