New Zealand Select have put on an impressive showing just over 24 hours after assembling in camp for their upcoming tour of China, holding Japan to a tie at the end of a regulation game (74-74), and again in an extra 15 minutes that both coaches had earlier agreed would be played (20-20).
Head Coach Paul Henare very much liked what he saw from a very young and largely inexperienced group, especially given they had trained for 90 minutes on the morning of the scrimmage, as they prepare for a five game China tour.
“Whenever anyone pulls on the black jersey, our effort has to be our baseline, what we build everything else on. We have to play with high intensity whenever we step on the floor and considering this group has had 24 hours together and some have come off a pretty busy weekend with the NBL finals, I couldn’t be more pleased.”
There were any number of stand out performances, made all the more impressive by New Zealand’s 12 matching up against Japan running 15 players in the 55-minute scrimmage, played as a genuine match, with official referees and score bench in place.
“(Mike) Karena was great, he showed his speed up and down the floor and Jimmy (Hunter) was another big to play well, but all of our bigs shot the ball well and allowed us to space the floor and if they were open to let it fly.
“Young Taylor Britt showed great composure and seems to get in the lane whenever he wants to and had some good patches. Derone (Raukawa) did what Derone does, got into the pocket and made some good jumpers.
“But everyone that stepped on the floor came on and had their moments which was cool.”
Neither team was able to exert any real dominance at any time, with the lead see-sawing throughout.
Coming so early in the camp and with the team having plenty of time yet on the floor to get ready for their Friday departure to China, Henare is excited about what lies ahead with this group.
“We have asked them to find their time in whatever we are running and then that time comes, do what you do, and they all did that today. We will spend every moment we can looking to improve and implement our systems and be ready to hit the floor running in China.”
The programme does not let up for the Select team, with a second closed door scrimmage against Japan at AUT on the North Shore tomorrow, tip off 5pm.
Japan is being hosted by Basketball New Zealand as they prepare for their upcoming Asian Games and FIBA World Cup matches.
NZ Select Team
Guards: Derone Raukawa (Sharks), Isaac Letoa (NCAA), Taylor Britt (Rams), Ethan Rusbatch (Hawks), Alonzo Burton (Mountain Airs)
Forwards: Tony Tolovae (Rams), Hyrum Harris (Hawks), Tom Vodanovich (Sharks), Dominique Kelman-Poto (Rangers), Mitchell Newton (Hawks)
Centres: James Hunter (Sharks), Michael Karena (Rams)
Head Coach Paul Henare
Assistant Coaches Judd Flavell (Sharks/NZ Breakers), Mark Dickel (Rams), Trent Adam (Mountain Airs)
Physiotherapist Hayden Sproat (Sharks)
Manager Andrew Dewhurst