Mika Vukona

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Mika Vukona
No. 14 – Nelson Giants
Position Power forward
League NZNBL
Personal information
Born (1982-05-13) 13 May 1982 (age 36)
Suva, Fiji
Nationality New Zealand
Listed height 197 cm (6 ft 6 in)
Listed weight 103 kg (227 lb)
Career information
High school Bethlehem College
(Tauranga, New Zealand)
Nelson College
(Nelson, New Zealand)
Playing career 2000–present
Career history
2000–2002 Nelson Giants
2003 Manawatu Jets
2003–2008 New Zealand Breakers
2004–2007 Nelson Giants
2008 Harbour Heat
2008–2009 South Dragons
2009–2010 Gold Coast Blaze
2010–2015 Nelson Giants
2010–2018 New Zealand Breakers
2014 Byblos
2015 Virtus Roma
2016 Super City Rangers
2018–present Nelson Giants
2018–present Brisbane Bullets
Career highlights and awards

Mika John Vukona (born 13 May 1982) is a New Zealand professional basketball player for the Nelson Giants of the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL). He is also a regular New Zealand Tall Black and holds a Fijian passport.[1]

Early life[edit]

Vukona was born in Suva, Fiji to Fijian father, Clem, and New Zealand mother, Marianne. He was raised in Fiji for the first five years of his life, before moving to the New Zealand coastal city of Tauranga. As a junior, Vukona played rugby until age 15 when his mother forced him to stop, leading him to follow his brother's footsteps and started playing basketball.[2] One code's loss was another's gain as Vukona went on to become a member of the national under 16, 18 and 20 sides.[3] Vukona's high school years saw him attend both Bethlehem College and Nelson College.

Career[edit]

Vukona made his professional debut in 2000 with the Nelson Giants of the New Zealand NBL, while still at Nelson College. His first nine years of professional basketball saw him become a staple in the New Zealand NBL, while elevating himself in the Australian NBL with the New Zealand Breakers. Between 2000 and 2008, Vukona played for the Nelson Giants, Manawatu Jets[4] and Harbour Heat. He was also a member of the first ever New Zealand Breakers team in 2003–04, and remained with the team until the end of the 2007–08 season. He was elevated from a development player to a full-time contracted player for the 2005–06 season,[5] and was a member of the Tall Blacks side in 2005 and 2006, competing in the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan.

In April 2008, Vukona signed a two-year deal with the South Dragons.[6] He won a championship with the Dragons in 2008–09, but following the season, the team folded. As a result, in June 2009, Vukona signed with the Gold Coast Blaze for the 2009–10 season.[7] Following his stint with the Blaze, he returned to the Nelson Giants for the 2010 New Zealand NBL season.

In April 2010, Vukona signed a two-year deal (with the option of a third year) with the New Zealand Breakers.[8][9] In July 2010, he re-signed with the Nelson Giants on a three-year deal.[9]

In April 2012, Vukona re-signed with the Breakers on a three-year deal.[10]

On 7 February 2013, it was announced that Vukona would return to the Giants for the 2013 season after he originally intended to sit out the season to rest following his Breakers duties.[11] On 28 February 2013, Vukona played his 200th game with the Breakers.[12]

On 31 March 2014, Vukona re-signed with the Nelson Giants on a short-term contract to replace the injured Adrian Majstrovich.[13] On 23 April 2014, he left the Giants and signed with Byblos for the rest of the 2013–14 Lebanese Basketball League season.[14] On 7 June 2014, he made his return for the Giants following the conclusion of Byblos' season.[15]

On 5 December 2014, Vukona re-signed with the Nelson Giants for the 2015 season.[16] Six days later, he played his 250th game for the Breakers.[17]

After competing in two games for the Nelson Giants to begin the 2015 season, Vukona signed with Italian team Virtus Roma on 21 April 2015 for the rest of the 2014–15 Lega Basket Serie A season.[18][19] On 5 May 2015, he re-signed with the Breakers on a three-year deal.[20] After Virtus failed to make the 2015 Serie A playoffs, Vukona returned to Nelson on 15 May. In three games for Virtus, he averaged 3.3 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.[21]

On 11 October 2015, Vukona missed the Breakers' second game of the 2015–16 season with a hamstring injury following 211 consecutive ANBL appearances.[22][23] On 24 November 2015, he signed a two-year deal with the Super City Rangers.[24][25] On 8 January 2016, he played his 350th NBL game against the Adelaide 36ers.[26]

On 20 October 2016, Vukona played his 300th game for the Breakers in a loss to the Sydney Kings.[27] Following the 2016–17 NBL season, Vukona did not re-join the Super City Rangers for a second season. He instead took six months away from the game to re-energise and rebuild his worn-down body ahead of the 2017–18 NBL season.[28] On 12 November 2017, Vukona played his 400th NBL game in an 88–82 win over the Perth Wildcats at Perth Arena.[29][30] In April 2018, he joined the Nelson Giants for the first time since 2015.[31]

On 18 April 2018, Vukona signed a two-year deal with the Brisbane Bullets.[32]

Personal[edit]

Vukona and his wife, Vanessa, have two children together, daughter Gia and son Noah.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mika Vukona says it is time for the veterans to step forward[dead link]
  2. ^ Take 40: Mika Vukona
  3. ^ Meet Mika Vukona - Lantern Insurance Ambassador
  4. ^ 2003 NBL Teams and Draw
  5. ^ NZ Breakers add duo to NBL list
  6. ^ Howell, Stephen (15 April 2008). "South Dragons snare Smith and Vukona". TheAge.com.au. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  7. ^ Blaze secure Vukona
  8. ^ Vukona heading back to Breakers
  9. ^ a b Giants score with Vukona signing
  10. ^ Vukona re-signs with Breakers
  11. ^ Mika Vukona extends his Nelson Giants stint
  12. ^ R21 Report: Breakers swat 36ers in fast-paced clash
  13. ^ Vukona answers the Giants' call
  14. ^ Vukona leaves Giants for Lebanon deal
  15. ^ Player's Update
  16. ^ a b Veteran Vukona stays glued to Giants' cause
  17. ^ R10 Report: Breakers move back to top in Vukona's 250th
  18. ^ Virtus Roma announces Mika Vukona
  19. ^ Mika Vukona takes short-term option to play in Italy
  20. ^ Breakers Snare Inspirational Leader on Three Year Deal
  21. ^ Mika Vukona on fast track back to Nelson Giants
  22. ^ Cedric Jackson triple-double paces Breakers to first win of NBL season
  23. ^ Basketball: Jackson helps Breakers bounce back
  24. ^ Mika Vukona signs with Super City Rangers for NBL
  25. ^ Tall Blacks and Breakers captain Mika Vukona signs with Super City Rangers
  26. ^ MIKA 350
  27. ^ Sydney Kings rain on Mika Vukona's parade to thump NZ Breakers
  28. ^ Re-energised and refocused, healed Mika Vukona vows to deliver for Breakers
  29. ^ Fire still burns bright for 'ultimate warrior' Mika Vukona as Breakers leader chalks up game No 400
  30. ^ Breakers make it eight straight with win over defending champion Perth Wildcats
  31. ^ The Nelson Giants have signed Mika...
  32. ^ Brisbane Continue Recruitment with Mika Vukona Signing

External links[edit]