The Tall Ferns selection camp, that takes place in Auckland next week, has a number of new faces but also one notable absentee – Lisa Wallbutton.
Now based in Perth where she works as an exercise physiologist, Wallbutton has retired from the international game after more than a decade playing for the senior national team since making her debut in 2005.
“It's been a huge honour to represent the Tall Ferns for 10 years. I have had the opportunity to play against some of the best players in the world and travel to some amazing places,” said Wallbutton.
“Most of all though, what I treasure from my experience with the Tall Ferns, is the great people I have met along the way and the team culture that the Tall Ferns embrace.
“I want to say a big thank you to all the coaches, support staff and my team mates for making the journey so enjoyable, and of course my family for their ongoing support.”
Wallbutton won a silver medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games where the Tall Ferns finished runner-up to Australia, but it was 2008 that provided the career highlight for the former North Harbour representative.
“My fondest memory of my time with the Tall Ferns will always be competing at the Beijing Olympics. For me that was a childhood dream come true and an opportunity to compete at the highest level against the very best players in the world at the time.”
Wallbutton, still a prominent player in the Western Australian State League with the Perth Redbacks, sees good times ahead for the Tall Ferns.
“It's such an exciting time for women's basketball in New Zealand, there is such a talented bunch of girls coming through so I will be watching closely from the side-lines and cheering the girls on.”
Tall Ferns coach Kereama is full of admiration for the commitment Wallbutton has given to the international programme.
“Lisa has been the very fabric of what our programme stands for and we are sad to see her move on from international basketball, but are also excited for what comes next in her life after basketball. I have had the pleasure of working with Lisa in a number of WNBL and State League programmes in addition to the Tall Ferns.
"Lisa embodied so many things that makes us proud of what it means to play in our singlet. She had great work ethic, was the ultimate team player, was always prepared to stand up for team mates on court and for an undersized forward had a the ability to gather rebounds and defend players much bigger than herself.
“I think many will miss Lisa’s easy going and kind nature, there was nothing she wouldn’t do for her team mates on or off the court. She was a professional with everything she did and the team will miss the impact she had. We wish her all the best with her life endeavours and thank her for over 10 years of service in the Tall Ferns programme.”
Following the selection camp the team will be selected for a tour of China and Singapore before the Tall Ferns compete at its first FIBA Women’s Asia Cup.
The 2017 tournament will be staged in Bangalore, 23 to 29 July. For the first time Australia and New Zealand will compete at the tournament alongside six Asian teams.
New Zealand has been drawn in Pool A alongside perennial powerhouse China, Chinese Taipei and the DPR of Korea.
The top four teams from the tournament will qualify for the 2018 FIBA Women’s World Cup.
For more information on the Tall Ferns squad trialing next week, click HERE
For more information on the Women’s FIBA Asia Cup, click HERE
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