POPULAR VISITOR: NBA player Matthew Dellavedova enjoys spending time with the Ipswich #dellysquad girls who won a national competition to meet him.
POPULAR VISITOR: NBA player Matthew Dellavedova enjoys spending time with the Ipswich #dellysquad girls who won a national competition to meet him. Franca Tigani

SLAM DUNK: Ipswich basketball scores visit from NBA royalty

IT took initiative, commitment and creativity for a group of Ipswich girls to lure Aussie National Basketball Association (NBA) star Matthew "Delly'' Dellavedova to the city.

However, the girls were delighted to win a national social media competition that benefited so many other young people at the weekend.

Delly was a popular visitor at Ipswich Stadium on Saturday, inspiring the next generation of players during a fun afternoon at Booval.

The Milwaukee Bucks point guard had a private session with the girls who spent three months completing a number of social media challenges to meet Delly in person.

The Australian Boomers and NBA title-winning player then had a question and answer session before interacting with more than 80 kids in an open coaching clinic at Ipswich Stadium.

A relaxed Delly clearly enjoyed his time, sharing in the fun drills and smiling throughout his sessions.

The look on the faces of the young basketballers showed how much they valued his time before he returns to the US to continue his NBA career.

Former Ipswich state league captain and current junior coach Vicki Foran oversaw the group of girls who entered the national competition.

Being a Delly fan herself, Foran was just as excited as the kids and other coaches involved in the afternoon of activities.

"It was just fantastic,'' Foran said.

"I'm just so grateful that he's done that because he's such an inspiration for the young kids.''

Delly, 26, last year shared in the NBA championship success of the Cleveland Cavaliers, having been recruited by the power US club in 2013.

Foran had followed Delly's career from playing with the Australian Institute of Sport to joining the world renowned Saint Mary's College of California program in 2009 before he was later drafted into the NBA.

Delly finished his college stint with Saint Mary's as the all-time leader in scoring, assists, games played, free-throw percentage and three-point shots. The defensive powerhouse player also won awards for academic, sporting and community achievements while at college.

Foran watched him win a tournament in Vegas in 2010.

But having him in Ipswich on Saturday was incredibly special for Foran, especially seeing the kids benefit from his knowledge and personable approach.

Of the Aussies heading to the US, Foran said "he was the shortest (1.93m), the less athletic of them all but went over there and worked the hardest.

"He's the perfect example of hard work beats talent.''

 

NBA player Matthew
NBA player Matthew "Delly'' Dellavedova happily answers questions at Ipswich Stadium on Saturday. Franca Tigani

Foran said Delly happily mixed with the kids on Saturday, signing autographs "on anything and everything'' and joining in the drills.

"He's such a good person,'' Foran said.

"He did questions and answers for everyone then ran a clinic for everyone.

"Delly walked around and took part in the clinic and interacted with the kids and had fun with them and high-fived and encouraged them.

"He was pumping them up.''

One of Delly's responses to a question was to appreciate your mum because she's the one who drives you around everywhere.

Twenty-five girls aged 8-14 spearheaded the Ipswich basketball effort to win the social media competition.

"We had to go through three months of challenges to win,'' Foran said.

"It was an Australian-wide competition.

"The association that had the most people taking part in the challenges won.''

Challenges included family photos highlighting their basketball connection and creative talents involving Dellavedova celebrating his NBA success.

Foran rallied the junior girls, organised training days and helped prepare videos and photos involving the young players and their mothers.

"It was great to have won,'' Foran said.

And even greater for Ipswich to have Dellavedova visit with such a positive message for the kids.

Look out for a special photo spread in Wednesday's Queensland Times.



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