Cobra has pounced
HIS speed around a basketball court, and the way he flicks his accurate shots at the hoop, have earned Anthony Cora the apt nickname of Cobra - just add the letter B to his surname.
And those skills have also earned the South Tweed 17-year-old - he turns 18 three days before Christmas - a berth in the Australian All Schools basketball squad, which leaves for a three-week tour of Texas on November 27.
The squad will play tournaments in San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Phoenix and Tucson, attend an ice hockey game, stroll along the Hollywood Walk of Fame and spend a few hours sampling the delights at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, before flying for home on December 17.
Cora's talents have already brought him to the attention of the Gold Coast Blaze, whose head coach Joey Wright has invited the youngster to participate in Blaze training sessions.
His mushrooming talent on the court should ensure the youngster realises a dream to be a professional basketballer.
That's a dream he has held since his devoted mum, Elizabeth, gave him a miniature basketball hoop as his fourth birthday-Christmas present.
"He just loved it from the moment we put a ball in his hands and he tried to throw it through the hoop," Elizabeth recalled.
"From that moment basketball was the only sport for him."
Cora says he was just a "fair" player throughout his primary years but his skills began to blossom in his early teens.
At 14 he played representative basketball for the first time, earning a spot in a Gold Coast regional team.
State honours evaded the Year 12 Palm Beach-Currumbin High student until this year, when his brilliance propelled him through all representative levels to a position with the Queensland Schoolboys, who contested the national championships in Canberra in August.
"We went OK at the nationals to finish fourth overall," Cora said.
"We only won two of our five games in the round-robin series but it was enough to get us into the semi-finals, where we were just beaten by Victoria and then Western Australia edged us out 84-80 in the bronze medal play-off."
Cora's speed, agility and sharpshooting brought him to the attention of selectors and by tournament's end he had booked his seat on the flight to Texas.
The local community is holding a fundraising evening at the Minjungbal Museum tonight - with eight children to feed and clothe and put a roof over their heads, the Coras don't have much money left over to put spending money into Anthony's pocket.
Tonight's fundraiser features a sumptuous meal of a wide range of curries.
There'll also be traditional dancing led by Anthony's older brother, Aaron, and a host of raffle prizes, including dinners-for-two and a basketball that has been signed by the Gold Coast Blaze players.
Lend Anthony and the Cora clan a hand by going to the museum from 5pm.