Five debutants have been named in the New Zealand Tall Ferns ahead of their preparation camp and the William Jones Cup defence.
Head Coach Guy Molloy says the team looks to the future with the addition of young players untested at the top level.
“In 2018, 23 players pulled on a Tall Ferns’ singlet and now we have a further five debutants for the first tour in 2019. This is an intentional strategy to build depth, increase competition for positions, and satisfy the increasing demands of FIBA for international basketball competition.
“The team selected to tour Japan and Taiwan features a blend of senior players such as Toni Farnworth, emerging new team leaders such as Penina Davidson, and exciting young potentials such as Ella Fotu. Again, this has been an intentional strategy to regenerate our style and improve our depth.”
Coach Molloy says that, for the team to compete with the basketball giants in the top 10, New Zealand must develop players with natural height. Traditionally the Tall Ferns have struggled for height in the four and five positions, yet the inclmausion of Palmerston North’s Amy West (195cm) and Charlotte Whittaker (193 cm) brings the additional power under the rim.
Molloy says the tour ahead will see the team play possibly two games against Japan in Japan, before defending the William Jones Cup that New Zealand won in 2018 with a relatively young side.
“Our goal in 2019 is to make it to 2020! What I mean by that is we give ourselves a great shot of qualifying for the Olympics, for which the key event is in February 2020. To do this will be very difficult, but I am expecting our culture and style of play will hold us in good stead.”
Indeed it will be difficult. Only 12 women’s teams will compete at the 2020 Olympics. To qualify, 16 teams will battle it out in four FIBA qualification tournaments in February 2020. To get there, the Tall Ferns need to go through a pre-qualifying Asia-Oceania tournament in November this year where eight teams will compete for four spots in the 2020 qualifiers. Yet the future is looking bright and Coach Molloy believes great things can happen for New Zealand women’s basketball.
“Everyone can feel the momentum surge in basketball in New Zealand. As I toured the country in May, doing workshops and clinics, I was really impressed with the talent on display. It’s an exciting time to be involved and an exciting time to be a Tall Fern,” said Coach Molloy.
Stella Beck (Launceston Tornadoes)
Tessa Boagni (Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats)
Micaela Cocks (Townsville Fire)
Penina Davidson (Harbour Breeze)
Toni Farnworth (Ringwood Hawks)
Matangiroa Flavell (Harbour Breeze)*
Ella Fotu (Harbour Breeze)*
Charlisse Leger-Walker (Waikato Wizards)
Esra McGoldrick (McAlpines M10 Mega North Canterbury Spirit / NC State University)*
Chevannah Paalvast (Sunshine Coast Rip)
Kalani Purcell (Auckland Dream/Melbourne Boomers)
Natalie Taylor (Auckland Dream)
Amy West (McAlpines M10 Mega North Canterbury Spirit / Liberty University)*
Charlotte Whittaker (McAlpines M10 Mega North Canterbury Spirit / University or Colorado)*
Head Coach: Guy Molloy
Assistant Coach: Jody Cameron
Assistant Coach: Aik Ho
Manager: Denise Beede
Physio: Ariane Carroll
Strength & Conditioning: Gavin Cross
Travel to Japan
Preparation Camp (also play friendlies with Japan and the Fujitsu Redwaves), July 13 - 21, Atsugi, Japan
Travel to Taiwan 22 July Tokyo, Japan to Taipei, Taiwan
William Jones Cup 24-28 July, Taipei, Taiwan
Travel home 30 July
More on the new women’s national team competition system here: http://www.fiba.basketball/womens-calendar