Tall Blacks Head Coach Paul Henare has announced the list of players that will attend a six-day camp in Auckland, ahead of a final 12-man roster being named to travel to the FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon, via preparation matches in China.
The 14 players include SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks Reuben Te Rangi and Derone Raukawa who have both spent time in the black singlet along with 2017 team mates James Hunter and Luke Aston, who will join a Tall Blacks camp for the first time.
The call up continues a great week in the life of 25 year old Hunter, following on from his signing with the SKYCITY Breakers yesterday.
As was indicated last month, the team is shy of experienced players as Henare manages player welfare and club commitments, with New Zealand entering FIBA Asia for the first time. With demands on players set to increase beyond anything experienced before, Henare has identified as a priority the World Cup Qualifiers in November 2017, February 2018 and June/July 2018, as the Tall Blacks look to book a place at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China, and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The team for the Asia Cup will however benefit from the recent introduction of the New Zealand Select concept, brought in by Basketball New Zealand two years ago with the introduction to Asia top of mind, as player depth was always going to be tested.
Henare says it is no coincidence that 8 of the 12 players who toured China last month with New Zealand Select have been named to attend the camp in Auckland, starting July 20 at Bruce Pulman Park in Papakura.
“The New Zealand Select tours are building depth and providing a step on the pathway from domestic competition to playing for the Tall Blacks. Many of the players in contention for the Asia Cup have experience of at least one New Zealand Select tour, so have a better understanding of what it is to play internationally and represent New Zealand, making the step into the Tall Blacks an easier one to handle.
“There is also a core group here that while young, already have experience with the Tall Blacks, with Shea Ili, Reuben Te Rangi, Finn Delany, Derone Raukawa, Ethan Rusbatch and Jordan Ngatai all having worn the black singlet before, many of them at the Olympic qualifiers in the Philippines last year.
“This will be a great group to work with, and one that has the potential to surprise in Beirut. But this is also a great investment in the depth of our game, with these players almost certainly needing to be ready to play their part over the next three years as we build towards the ultimate goal of Tokyo 2020.”
As well as taking the chance to further develop the depth in the game and give a number of young players their chance in the black singlet, Henare is ensuring that the senior group is refreshed ahead of a busy 12-month period, starting with the first World Cup Qualifiers in November.
“I have spoken to all other players and explained the long-term thinking. A number of them weren’t available for a variety of reasons, and while some are disappointed not to be selected for the Asia Cup, everyone understands what we are trying to achieve is on board with the longer-term goals of China 2019 and Tokyo 2020 top of mind.”
As well as those looking to graduate from the recent New Zealand Select tour, there are call ups to the camp for Anchor Junior Tall Blacks Isaac Letoa, Quinn Clinton, Taane Samuel and Callum McRae.
There are also first-time call-ups to a Tall Blacks camp for James Hunter (Southland Sharks), Luke Aston (Southland Sharks) and Dyson King-Hawea (Nunawading Spectres – AUS).
Those not considered include Tai Wynyard (not released), Jack Salt (injury), Mike Karena (injury), Dan Fotu (injury) and Mitch Newton (injury), Izayah Leafa (not available),
Yanni Wetzel (not released), Matt Freeman (not released) along with others in the NCAA programme who were unable to secure a release from their College commitments.
Players invited to the Tall Blacks Camp, July 20 to 26, Bruce Pulman Park, Papakura. (Final 12 player roster for the Asia Cup to be selected during this camp):
- Shea Ili, point guard, SKYCITY Breakers/Wellington Saints
- Derone Raukawa, point guard, SKYCITY Breakers/Southland Sharks
- Isaac Letoa, point guard, Wellington Saints, Anchor Junior Tall Blacks
- Quinn Clinton, point guard, Canterbury Rams, Anchor Junior Tall Blacks
- Ethan Rusbatch, guard, Canterbury Rams
- Luke Aston, guard, Southland Sharks
- Reuben Te Rangi, guard/small forward, Brisbane Bullets, Southland Sharks
- Dyson King-Hawea, forward, Nunawading Spectres
- Jordan Ngatai, guard/small forward, Wellington Saints
- Taane Samuel, forward, Wellington Basketball, Junior Tall Blacks
- Finn Delany, forward, SKYCITY Breakers
- Sam Timmins, centre, Washington University
- James Hunter, forward/centre, Southland Sharks
- Callum McRae, centre, Palmerston North Boys High, Junior Tall Blacks.