Heading into the 2016 Australian Helloworld Under-14 Club Championships, the Sturt Sabres boys are prepared to defend their 2015 title.

Aiming to become just the fifth different club to go back-to-back since the tournament’s inception in 1970, the Sabres have a history of developing great players that have helped them to become one of the most successful clubs in the country.

“Sturt have developed a number of great players from Phil Smyth to Brett Maher, Jacob Holmes, Oscar Forman (all of whom have won medals at an Under 14 nationals) as well as Nicole Seekamp and four-time Olympian Laura Hodges to name just a few,” said Sturt Director of Basketball, Scott Butler.

“We have a strong belief that great player development leads to team success at all levels and this has been a major reason behind Sturt’s many medals at this event.

“The girls won the title in 1993 and the boys won in 1974, 2005 and 2015 which is a great record over a long period of time for a relatively small club.”

That most recent Championship snapped a three-year streak for Victorian clubs and non-Victorian teams have won the title just ten times in the 45-year history of the Under-14’s.

Despite that record, Butler says that defeating Keilor Thunder in last year’s Grand Final did not make the Championship any sweeter.

“We try to emulate and better what the big Victorian associations do as they are the benchmark for basketball in Australia.

“With a relatively small population base to draw from in comparison, it’s great when a plan comes together and we get a big win in a big game.”

The Sabres had a tournament to remember in 2015, providing one of the highlights of the competition when a three-point buzzer beater from Taine Mitchell carried them over the line against Melbourne Tigers in the Semi-Final, 57-55.

It helped ensure Sturt progressed through the 2015 campaign undefeated with Sebastian Griffin and Joel Dyer leading the way.

Jackson Allen and Aimable Rukundo Ciza Rutayisire are the two returning players in the 2016 team, boosting their back and front courts respectively and with Rutayisire having averaged 8.3 points per game last year, he could be set for a big tournament next week.

“The 2016 team has some good size, good guard play and is well coached by Ben Gliddon. It is always difficult to win a National Championship but we will give it our best shot," said Butler.

“The will to prepare is more important than the will to win and both our boys and girls teams will be well prepared.”

That preparation is an important aspect in the development of the players at Under-14 level and with the Helloworld Club Championships providing the first chance to represent your club on a national level, the tournament is a vital step in the pathway.

“We believe this championship gives our players great big game experience that sets them up for higher age national championships and hopefully Australian national teams.

“We have produced many players and coaches who are professionals and make their living from basketball and this championship is one of the first stages in their evolution.”

The 2016 Under-14 Helloworld Club Championships tip-off next Monday, September 26 in Newcastle and Maitland, New South Wales.

Online tickets can still be purchased here with the draw and fixture available on the Basketball Australia website here.

Conduct all your travel bookings through Helloworld here to find your nearest travel agent.