Brydens Sydney Uni Flames youngest player, 17-year-old Tahlia Tupaea has been selected in the Australian Under 17 women’s basketball team to contest the World Championships.

Tupaea was named in the 12-strong squad yesterday for the FIBA Championships, which will be held in the Czech Republic from June 28.

She survived an extensive selection program that started in September last year at the 2013 FIBA Oceania Under 17 Championships.

The final make-up of the team was confirmed following a training camp at the Basketball Australia National Centre of Excellence in Canberra in May, where 17 players battled for the opportunity to represent their country on the international stage.

Under the guidance of Townsville Fire WNBL Head Coach Chris Lucas, the team will embark on a pre-World Championship tour of Europe, departing on June 19 before heading to the Czech Republic in anticipation of their opening fixture against Japan at 9:30pm AEST on Saturday, June 28.

The Australians will face Mexico and Slovakia in their group stage games at the tournament, hoping to push their way into the knockout phase and strive for a podium finish.

The Australian team has a strong Victorian presence, with Chloe Bibby joined by Georgia Pineau, Maddison Rocci, Anneli Maley and Alexandra Sharp. NSW is represented by Jasmine Forcadilla and Tupaea, while South Australia have Taylor Ortlepp and Morgan Yaeger. Queensland’s Bride Kennedy-Hopoate and Bridget O’Brien and West Australians Madeleine Dennis round out the team.

Brydens Sydney Uni Flames signed Tupaea, a NSW junior for the 2012-13 WNBL season and in October 2012 she became the second youngest debutant in WNBL history when she played against the West Coast Waves at just 15 years and 133 days of age. She finished the 2012-13 WNBL season with nine impressive games to her name and was re-signed by the Flames, as a 16-year-old, at the start of last season.

A Penrith junior, Tupaea has been involved with the Flames program since she was 13 when she was part of the inaugural Academy Program, which is a large part of the club’s ongoing commitment to developing elite young NSW female athletes.

“I learnt so much from the two years that I was involved in the program, and then playing in the WNBL last season was also an excellent experience for me,” she said after her debut season.

Her improvement with the Flames earned her a spot on the bronze medal winning Australian Gems Under 19 World Championships team in Lithuania last July.

“I wasn’t expecting to get much playing time and it was great to win the bronze medal,” Tupaea said.

Brydens Sydney Uni Flames Head Coach at the time, Karen Dalton, said Tahlia took the opportunity with both hands.

“You could see at our pre-season training that Tahlia had benefited greatly from experience at the Under 19 World Championships,” Dalton said. “Despite having only just turned 16, she played an important role.”

Now a 174cm back-up point-guard, Tahlia’s meteoric rise is expected to continue with the Sydney Uni Flames for the 2014-15 WNBL season.