Mika Vukona

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Mika Vukona
No. 14 – Brisbane Bullets
PositionPower forward
LeagueNBL
Personal information
Born (1982-05-13) 13 May 1982 (age 37)
Suva, Fiji
NationalityNew Zealand
Listed height197 cm (6 ft 6 in)
Listed weight103 kg (227 lb)
Career information
High schoolBethlehem College
(Tauranga, New Zealand)
Nelson College
(Nelson, New Zealand)
Playing career2000–present
Career history
2000–2002Nelson Giants
2003Manawatu Jets
2003–2008New Zealand Breakers
2004–2007Nelson Giants
2008Harbour Heat
2008–2009South Dragons
2009–2010Gold Coast Blaze
2010–2015Nelson Giants
2010–2018New Zealand Breakers
2014Byblos
2015Virtus Roma
2016Super City Rangers
2018–presentNelson Giants
2018–presentBrisbane Bullets
Career highlights and awards

Mika John Vukona (born 13 May 1982) is a Fijian-born New Zealand professional basketball player for the Brisbane Bullets of the Australian National Basketball League (NBL). He is a five-time NBL champion and a two-time All-NBL Second Team member. Between 2003 and 2018, he spent 13 seasons with the New Zealand Breakers and helped them win four championships. He is also a regular with the New Zealand NBL's Nelson Giants during the Australian NBL off-seasons. Vukona is also a long-time New Zealand Tall Black.

Early life[edit]

Vukona was born in Suva, Fiji.[1] He was adopted by his birth mother's brother, a Fijian named Clem.[2] Clem and his a wife, a New Zealander named Marion, moved their family to New Zealand in 1987 following the Fiji coup.[3] They settled down in the coastal city of Tauranga, Marion's hometown.[2]

Vukona attended Bethlehem College in Tauranga for both primary and secondary school.[2] He played rugby until third form at Bethlehem College, when his anti-rugby mother forced him to stop. He subsequently followed his brother's footsteps and took up basketball.[1][4] He went on to become a member of the national under 16, 18 and 20 sides.[5] Basketball took him to Nelson in his final school year after earning a scholarship to go to Nelson College.[1][2]

Professional career[edit]

Australian NBL[edit]

Vukona made his debut in the Australian NBL as a development player during the New Zealand Breakers' inaugural season in 2003–04. He was elevated from a development player to a full-time contracted player for the 2005–06 season.[6] He played five seasons for the Breakers before joining the South Dragons in 2008.[7] He won a championship with the Dragons in 2008–09. After the Dragons collapsed, Vukona joined the Gold Coast Blaze for the 2009–10 season.[8]

In 2010, Vukona made a return to the Breakers,[9][10] and over the next five seasons, he helped the team win four championships, including three straight between 2010–11 and 2012–13. The 2015–16 season saw the Breakers play in a fifth grand final in six years, where they lost to the Perth Wildcats. In November 2017, Vukona played his 400th NBL game.[11][12] After eight seasons with the Breakers, Vukona joined the Brisbane Bullets in 2018.[13] Vukona ended the 2018–19 season on 449 games after tearing his Achilles in game one of the Bullets' semi-final series against the Wildcats and thus missing game two.[14]

New Zealand NBL, Lebanon and Italy[edit]

Vukona made his New Zealand NBL debut in 2000. He played for the Nelson Giants between 2000 and 2002 before playing for the Manawatu Jets in 2003. He then played for the Giants between 2004 and 2007 before playing for the Harbour Heat in 2008. He played for the Giants between 2010 and 2015, then with the Super City Rangers in 2016, and then again with the Giants in 2018.

In April 2014, Vukona ventured outside New Zealand or Australia for the first time, joining Lebanese team Byblos.[15] Twelve months later, he moved to Italy to play for Virtus Roma.[16][17][18]

Personal[edit]

Vukona and his wife Vanessa have two children.[19] Vukona holds a Fijian passport.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Rattue, Chris (19 March 2009). "My life in sport: Mika Vukona". nzherald.co.nz. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d Wilson, Caley (17 December 2014). "Mika puts his hard hat on and goes to work". e-tangata.co.nz. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  3. ^ White, Peter (29 July 2017). "Mika Vukona returns home to play". nzherald.co.nz. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  4. ^ "Take 40: Mika Vukona". NBL.com.au. 27 February 2014. Archived from the original on 6 March 2014.
  5. ^ "Meet Mika Vukona - Lantern Insurance Ambassador". blueheat.co.nz. 13 November 2013. Archived from the original on 14 January 2015.
  6. ^ "NZ Breakers add duo to NBL list". racingandsports.com.au. 10 June 2005. Archived from the original on 21 February 2014.
  7. ^ Howell, Stephen (15 April 2008). "South Dragons snare Smith and Vukona". TheAge.com.au. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  8. ^ "Blaze secure Vukona". abc.net.au. 10 June 2009. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  9. ^ Vukona heading back to Breakers
  10. ^ Giants score with Vukona signing
  11. ^ Fire still burns bright for 'ultimate warrior' Mika Vukona as Breakers leader chalks up game No 400
  12. ^ Breakers make it eight straight with win over defending champion Perth Wildcats
  13. ^ Brisbane Continue Recruitment with Mika Vukona Signing
  14. ^ "White, Cotton, Kay Fire Wildcats into Grand Final". NBL.com.au. 2 March 2019. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  15. ^ Vukona leaves Giants for Lebanon deal
  16. ^ Virtus Roma announces Mika Vukona
  17. ^ Mika Vukona takes short-term option to play in Italy
  18. ^ Mika Vukona on fast track back to Nelson Giants
  19. ^ Veteran Vukona stays glued to Giants' cause
  20. ^ A favourite son Mika Vukona

External links[edit]