Flames teenagers included in national squad

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Southern Design Sydney Uni Flames teenagers Lauren Nicholson and Ashleigh Karaitiana have been named in the Australian Under 19 squad to commence preparations for the 2011 FIBA World Championships in Chile.

Karaitiana and Nicholson are in their rookie season with the Flames and have been named in the 25-player squad for the first of the “Gems” camps to be held at the AIS in January.

Both players have previously represented their country, with Karaitiana a member of the 2009 Gems that contested the World Championships in Thailand and Nicholson captaining the Australian Under 17’s in France earlier this year.

An athletic swingman, Karaitiana is a former AIS scholarship holder and is a product of the City of Sydney Basketball Association.

“It’s really good to be named in the squad,” said Karaitiana.

“I played in the Under 19’s team last year in Bangkok and it was a great experience. We finished fifth, so this time I really want to improve on that.”

A Sutherland junior, Nicholson is an intelligent off-guard and has impressed in her rookie season with her shooting touch and basketball intelligence.

Nicholson was thrilled to be named in the squad.

“It’s actually pretty overwhelming,” said Nicholson.

“I’m really happy to be named in the squad and I can’t wait to go into camp with the rest of the girls.”

Both players are also members of the Sydney Uni Flames Academy and have trained with both the senior group and the development academy since August.

Flames Academy coach Peter Lonergan said it was a credit to the efforts on the training court and in the weight room that the young Flames have been included in the national junior squad.

“Any time you are selected to a national camp it is a terrific achievement and we are thrilled that Ash and Lauren have been given this recognition,” he said.

“This is a deep and talented squad of athletes, so it is a great opportunity for them to attend the camp and put their best foot forward in a World Championship year,” he added.

The Gems will contest the FIBA World Under 19 Championships in Chile in July, 2011.