Basketball New Zealand has named the Junior Tall Blacks team that will travel to Bangkok and compete in the FIBA Under 18 Asian Championship, starting 5 August.
Basketball New Zealand’s High Performance Director, Leonard King, says this is an exciting team that consists of the best available talent in this age-group, which he says is not easily achieved when many players have US College commitments.
“This team consists of the strongest talent that we can call on. That’s partly because we have significantly improved the way we communicate with the US Colleges, where a number of players at this level are often placed on scholarships.
“Historically, once players left our shores, it was a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’. During the last few years especially, with so many of our Kiwi kids playing in the US, we have improved the process.
“The colleges’ willingness to release is partly due to timing as it’s not at the pointy end of their season, but it’s also trust in our programme and a realisation that these FIBA events are a big deal. Of course, we really appreciate the schools choice to release the kids from summer school and to be part of this squad. The players also appreciate it too, because they are able to represent New Zealand on the world stage,” said King today.
Head Coach Gavin Briggs says this team is a good indication of the increasing depth of talent that the Tall Blacks can call on.
“We have been liaising with Tall Blacks Coach Paul Henare to better understand their style within the Tall Blacks system. Having Max [Darling] and Kruz [Perrott-Hunt] in the squad, two players who have already been in the Tall Blacks training environment, means that we will benefit from their experiences as that style of play flows down to this team as well. They will certainly influence what we are trying to achieve and help lift our competitiveness,” said Coach Briggs today.
The team will benefit from other areas of experience including that of Assistant Coach Miles Pierce whose Under 18 team qualified for this Asia Champs in Guam last year. Also Flynn Cameron has already been to an U19 World Cup when the Junior Tall Blacks competed in Cairo in July 2017. That was the first time a New Zealand age-group team had ever qualified for a World Cup, where they went on to finish 11th.
Cameron is not the only alumni of that squad. Coaches Gavin Briggs and Leyton Haddleton were Assistant Coaches for that tour, while Charles Maaka was the Manager and Dawn Chalmers was the physiotherapist.
To return to U19 World Cup qualification glory next year, this Junior Tall Blacks team must finish the Asia Championships within the top four. They’ve been placed in Pool C alongside Australia, Bahrain and Thailand.
The team will get together for the first time, in full, on 1 August in Thailand. They will train together for three days which will include a confirmed warm-up game against Kazakhstan and possibly another against Lebanon.
More information on the FIBA U18 Asian Championship here: http://www.fiba.basketball/asia/u18/2018
2018 Junior Tall Blacks (New Zealand Under 19)
Flynn Cameron, New Zealand
Matthew O’Connell, Taranaki
Tama Faamausili, Palmerston North
Max DeGeest, Canterbury
Kruz Perrott-Hunt, Harbour
Oscar Oswald, Palmerston North
Maxim Stephens, Waikato
Max Darling, Canterbury
Tomas Higgins, Canterbury
James Moors, Harbour
Sam Mennenga, Harbour
Nathan Hanna, Otago
Gavin Briggs - Head Coach
Miles Pearce - Assistant Coach
Leyton Haddleton - Assistant Coach
Charles Maaka - Team Manager
Dawn Chalmers - Team Physio