Flood of elite basketball talent in Ipswich
FROM the torment of the devastating 2011 floods to the pride of hosting a major basketball tournament.
Ipswich is back in the national spotlight and ready to witness many of the country's most skilful, high-flying and lethal shooting players.
The Australian under 20 and Ivor Burge championships fired up at Booval today, with 24 teams testing their form against other highly regarded opponents.
It's the first time Ipswich has been chosen for the prestigious week-long tournament, coming after the regional basketball fraternity watched the stadium swamped by flood waters five years ago.
However, there were no aquatic fears today - just sheer excitement as the players, coaches, officials, umpires and volunteers assembled for the opening ceremony.
Ipswich stadium manager Marney George spoke for the city when she praised the hard work that had been done to attract the championships.
"It's pretty exciting,'' George said. "Let's hope it pays off.''
The Queensland under-20 men opened their campaign with a 77-72 win over Victoria White.
The side includes Ipswich product Kane Bishop who looked relaxed before the opening ceremony, sitting with teammates and eating a banana.
Bishop scored 11 points in his first game at under-20 national level.
The Queensland women also made a promising start, beating NSW 89-83.
In today's matches, the Queensland men play NSW at 1pm before the state women's side meet Victoria White at 5pm.
During the impressive opening ceremony, 24 teams paraded onto the main Ipswich court.
Ipswich regularly hosts Queensland Basketball League and junior state carnival matches, having a dedicated group of volunteers. However, this week features the cream of Australia's basketball future.
Women's National Basketball League general manager and competitions official Paul Maley said the tournament will give those involved incredible access to elite sport.
"Australia bats well above its weight on the world stage and the reason for that is the strength of the junior competitions and pathways,'' he said.
"Getting to an under-20 national championships is a significant achievement.
"They are of a standard that is recognised around the world so it's something they and their family should be proud of.''
Maley urged the under-20 players to make the most of the tournament in Ipswich.
"The memory of it won't just be that they score a lot of points,'' he said.
"It will be how they actually go about it for the entire week. Pour their heart out on the court.''
The 42nd Australian Championships for under-20s are staged alongside the Ivor Burge Championships for athletes with an intellectual disability.
Matches will be played at 11am each day at Ipswich stadium, concluding with Saturday's medal matches.
Ivor Burge games are also set down for Ipswich Girls' Grammar School.
Ipswich stadium is at 2 Ross Llewellyn Drive, Booval.