Basketball New Zealand (BBNZ) has confirmed its men's and women's 3X3 squads for the upcoming FIBA 3X3 World Cup Qualifier Asia 2022, to be held in Doha on 25-26 March 2022 at the iconic Al Gharafa Sports Complex.
The Tall Blacks 3X3 team will feature the Sharks' Dom Kelman-Poto along with Taylor Britt, Nikau McCullough and Tai Wynyard, while the Tall Ferns 3X3 team includes Tiarna Clarke, Ella Fotu, Esra McGoldrick and Sharne Robati.
Six teams in each gender will compete for the last spot in the FIBA 3x3 World Cup 2022 during this two-day event, with New Zealand joined by Host Qatar, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan and Iran across both the men's and women's categories. In addition, Malaysia will compete in the men's draw while Uzbekistan is included in the women's field.
This will be Esra McGoldrick's first foray into international 3X3 basketball, having previously debuted for the Tall Ferns back in 2019. Her strong showing in last years' 3X3 Seven Stars Invitational has helped the 23-year-old become one of Aotearoa's top-ranked 3X3 athletes.
McGoldrick says the 3X3 World Cup Qualifiers is an awesome opportunity for her and her teammates.
"It feels amazing to be named in this team, it's a goal I've strived for - and I think we have a really good chance of qualifying for the 3X3 World Cup and doing well over there, as we've got a strong group of girls assembled and a great coach in Justine [Reed].
"We're going to go in there and give everything, we expect the other teams to be tough but we have a belief that we can advance to the next stage."
BBNZ Head of High Performance, Leonard King, says that the men's and women's players all impressed the coaching staff at the recent 3X3 Senior National Team Camps in Auckland.
"The camp helped us to identify which players can excel for us in the 3X3 space and are best prepared to compete in a Tall Blacks/Tall Ferns setting," says King.
"We have confidence that both teams will come into these Qualifiers with a focus on competing hard and qualifying for the World Cup event in June."
King says that New Zealand is becoming an emerging player on the world 3X3 basketball scene, as the sport itself continues to grow worldwide.
"This is a great opportunity for our 3X3 players to gain experience in an international setting - against quality opponents - that we otherwise haven't been able to do over the past few years due to Covid.
"Nothing beats being able to get out there and play against the best in the world, which is what participating in these qualifiers affords us. Especially as we prepare our 3X3 men's and women's teams for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this August."
The winners of this FIBA 3X3 World Cup Qualifier Asia will each be able to compete in the FIBA 3x3 World Cup 2022, which takes place for the first time in Belgium's famous port city of Antwerp on June 21-26.
It will be the seventh edition of the FIBA 3x3 World Cup and first since 2019 when USA won the men's gold medal and China claimed women's gold. The New Zealand 3X3 men's team has competed in the World Cup four times previously (2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018) while the 3X3 women's team has competed twice (2016 and 2019).
Although she has come from the tradition 5 on 5 basketball setting, McGoldrick loves the freedom and pace of 3X3 basketball.
"I just really like the fact it's fast-paced and it really comes down to breaking down your defender and being quick on your feet - that's how I enjoy playing and I feel it really suits my game."
New Zealand 3X3 Tall Ferns for Doha:
Tiarna Clarke (Harbour Basketball)
Ella Fotu (Harbour Basketball)
Esra McGoldrick (Auckland ABSL)
Sharne Robati (Auckland ABSL)
Head Coach: Justine Reed
New Zealand 3X3 Tall Blacks for Doha:
Taylor Britt (Canterbury Rams)
Dom Kelman-Poto (Southland Sharks)
Nikau McCullough (Otago Nuggets)
Tai Wynyard (Taranaki Airs)
Head Coach: Piet Van Hasselt