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Friday, April 22, 2011

Basketball: That's my boy

Jan Henare misses the first call on her cellphone amid all the din but the second time around, minutes later, she picks up the vibration and answers.

The cacophony of clinking silverware and wine flutes in the backdrop of belching espresso coffee machines suggests the gregarious mother of professional basketballer Paul Henare is primed for lunch at a trendy cafe in Takapuna Beach, on the outskirts of North Shore, in Auckland, where a friend spots TV One weatherman Jim Hickey.

"I couldn't even hear the phone go properly the first time it rang," she says apologetically but that fails to disguise the air of expectation in her voice, only a day after the New Zealand Breakers' historic game one victory over the Cairns Taipans in the Australian National Basketball League finals.

For someone adept at rustling hearty roasts, Jan Henare is far from her comfort zone in Napier, where she lives and teaches at Porritt School in Tamatea.

"I gave up doing roasts when my boys [Richard, Jamie and Paul] left home but my Sunday roasts are still legendary," she says, something those who have been fortunate enough to indulge in will unequivocally attest to.

Tomorrow will be a Sunday geographically off the axis of normalcy for the 60-year-old grandmother, but that is not to say she will lose the frequency required to whet her insatiable appetite for basketball.

Come 6pm, the TV news will give way to a Sky Sports channel for the live coverage of game two of the ANBL finals between favourites Breakers and wounded Taipans, who were humiliated 85-67 at the North Shore Events Centre on Wednesday night.

Jan will be glued to the box at the home of her father, Don Campbell, at Snells Beach, Warkworth, north of Auckland.

"My dad's one of Paulie's biggest fans," she says.
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"He's very vocal and there'll be some strong opinions on what's going on in the game."

The demands of her job and the cost associated with travelling and accommodation mean the sea of orange at the Cairns Convention Centre won't drown Jan when the much-anticipated confetti rains down from the ceiling to acknowledge the Breakers as the first code to break the shackles of Australian domination in their own professional competitions.

That is the foregone conclusion, of course.

If everything follows the New Zealand script, the Kiwi franchise will become the first professional team to infiltrate a domain the Aussies have jealously guarded in any major code - basketball, rugby league, football or netball.

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