Queanbeyan junior picked for Australia

ZALI ANDREWS: Queanbeyan's young star is ready to take on the world. Photo: James Hall.
ZALI ANDREWS: Queanbeyan's young star is ready to take on the world. Photo: James Hall.

The Queanbeyan basketball stadium has become accustomed to power-forward Zali Andrews driving through the key and scoring at will.

But now it’s time for the 15 year old to take her craft to the international stage.

Zali’s dominant performance for the under-16 national championship winning NSW Country Kookaburras team in Albury last month led to her being selected for the Australian Country team.

The Kookaburras survived a mid-tournament fright from Victoria which they won by just one point.

They then went on to thrash South Australia in the gold medal match by 24 points.

Zali scored 11 points of her own in the decider.

Now Zali, whose family hails from the north island of New Zealand, will get a chance to strut her stuff against her friends in the Australian green and gold.

As part of the country national team Zali will play an international tournament at her family’s former home country at Easter.

The power-forward’s height and skill may draw comparisons to Canberra Capitals’ Marianna Tolo, but Zali says her favourite player is Australian Opal point-guard Leilani Nitchell.

But her all-round capabilities at either end of the court are more reflective of NBA superstar Lebron James, and she is more than willing to take on her opponents in a similar manner to the Cleveland Cavaliers champion.

"I like to play everything but they just put me in post because I'm tall,” Zali said.

"I just want to drive it all day."

Zali will join three other NSW Country teammates in the national team and although her first national campaign is daunting she said playing in New Zealand would be an advantage.

“It's easier because it is my home,” she said.

“I pretty much know everyone I'm going to play against".

Regardless, the young Queanbeyan star just can’t wait to get her national basketball uniform so she can continue her dominance.

Zali will play in the Mel Young Easter Classic in Tauranga, New Zealand.

The tournament brings together representative teams from the Pacific and is an ideal stepping stone for talented young players such as Zali.