And the hits just keep coming…..
If basketball in New Zealand was an old-fashioned top 40 countdown, Shea Ili just entered the charts with a bullet. Not that the 25-year-old is new to charting, he has been churning out the hits for some time now, with the NZ Breakers, Wellington Saints and of course the MBO Tall Blacks, where he has emerged as an on-court leader and genuine world class player. The point guard took the team to the brink of a medal in an All-Star Five worthy performance at the FIBA Asia Cup, and more recently the bronze medal at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Now Ili has a sneak peak at the big time, with Ili securing an invite to a free agent mini-camp with the Dallas Mavericks of the NBA. It is essentially a two-day workout and with it, a chance to impress coaches and scouts and maybe secure an NBA Summer League contract for later in July.
In even better news, the timing of the camp is perfect for a return to the MBO Tall Blacks for Ili, in time for the upcoming FIBA World Cup window with games against Hong Kong (Rotorua June 28) and China (Spark Arena, July 1).
The 23 players in contention for those games will be named by Head Coach Paul Henare on Monday, with many of them attending a pre-window camp in Wellington from June 17.
Meantime, Ili will have his head down for the Wellington Saints in the Sal’s NBL, with a sold out Horncastle Arena awaiting their clash with the Canterbury Rams tonight (Friday).
FIBA World Cup Qualifiers: Round 1, Group A – Tall Blacks Games
New Zealand is in Group A for the first window, along with China, South Korea and Hong Kong. The top three will progress and carry points through to next window of qualifying.
• 23 November v South Korea, in Wellington. (Tall Blacks lost 80 – 86)
• 26 November v Hong Kong, in Hon Kong. (Tall Blacks won 133 – 74).
• 23 February v China, Dongguan Basketball Center, China. (Tall Blacks won 82 – 73)
• 26 February v South Korea, Jamsil Arena, Seoul. (Tall Blacks won 93 – 84)
• 28 June v Hong Kong, Energy Events Centre, Rotorua. 7pm.
• 1 July v China, Spark Arena, Auckland. 3:30pm.
MBO Tall Blacks vs Hong Kong in Rotorua on 28 June and vs China in Auckland on 1 July on sale 8 May here: http://www.ticketmaster.co.nz/New-Zealand-Tall-Blacks-tickets/artist/1132500?tm_link=artist_artistvenue_module
• The meaning of Tu Kaha, the Tall Blacks haka
• Learn more about the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers (Asia Zone).
• Tall Blacks supporters gear can be purchased here.
• Follow the Tall Blacks’ social media channels: @TallBlacks Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
• Tall Blacks media releases.
• All Tall Blacks FIBA World Cup Qualifying games will be broadcast by Maori Television.