Tall Blacks Dreams from Barcelona

The next time the Tall Blacks squad gets together it will inevitably have a different look to the group that attended the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

I was thinking about this as I dozed off on the flight from Barcelona…………….

The NZ Tall Blacks team named for the 2018 Commonwealth Games to be held on the Gold Coast next month contains a couple of surprises.

Mika Vukona returns to international duty and the little known Rudy Claze is handed an international debut.

Vukona has not played for the Tall Blacks since the 2015 season but makes a welcome return as captain.

Glaze is another guard out of the Westlake Boys ‘factory’ and earns his place due to the unavailability of Tai Webster. Webster, chasing his NBA dream, is playing in the NBA Summer League for the Houston Rockets.

Breakers point guard Cedric Jackson takes the one permitted naturalized spot edging out the challenge of 37-year-old Nick Horvath.

The other point guard spots are taken by Breakers regular Shea Ili and US college standout Izayah Le’afa.

Again the Tall Blacks are a little undersized as Steve Adams (NBA commitments) and Alex Pledger (injured) were unavailable. However Rob Loe makes a welcome return after a two-year absence due to European club obligations.

Jack Salt has earned the back up centre place having had an outstanding senior year at the University of Virginia.

Vukona will most likely be the starting power forward but challenging for that spot will be NBA bound Tai Wynyard and BJ Anthony. Anthony has just signed a contract with his fourth ANBL club, the Wellington Wizards.

The shooting guard selections were straightforward, regular internationals Corey Webster (Lyon, France) and Reuben Te Rangi (Breakers) receiving the nod.

Swingman Tom Abercrombie is taking a break after playing almost continuously for a number of years but his loss is cushioned by the availability of Isaac Fotu. Unlike Adams, Fotu will play despite two full seasons of NBA commitments with the Charlotte Hornets.

Wellington Wizards sharp shooter Everard Bartlett rounds out the squad.

Veteran Jarrod Kenny and Tohi Smith-Milner were, like Pledger, unavailable due to injury.

Gold Coast resident Pero Cameron who took over the reins of the national team after the 2014 World Cup coaches the team.

I awoke from my slumber with my tongue firmly in my cheek but thinking that future Tall Blacks coaching teams will have some nice selection problems.


Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis shares some thoughts at the World Cup

I had the chance for brief catch up with Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis a few hours out from the round of 16 games featuring both the Australian and New Zealand teams.

Australia takes on Turkey 8pm Sunday (local time). Four hours earlier the Tall Blacks will face Lithuania.

I began by asking him how he felt his team was performing after the Australians finished pool D in second place.

“Very pleased with how we have been able to build over the course of the tournament, we have played some really good basketball and got to the round of 16 healthy which is important as we can come out at full strength.

Turkey are going to be a tough opponent we look forward to playing them and hopefully being able to advance, this is the fun stage now”

Q Have you played Turkey before?

No certainly not in my time with the Boomers, this will be my first experience against them.

Q Have you talked to NZ coaches about how they went against Turkey?

“Just briefy, just had a bit of a chat. We obviously have a video team that has a relationship with a lot of other scouts from the other pools so we have a lot of information on them. That’s all great but at the end of the day you have to come out and play

Q Have the Tall Blacks coaches sought you out about facing Lithuania?

No, I had a brief exchange with Pero (Cameron) yesterday in the foyer of the hotel. I think there has been an exchange through the video guys who have all spoken with each other

Is it nice to have Kiwis staying in the hotel with you?

For sure, it’s always great to see those guys there are a lot of good friendships, good relationships with those people.” Referring to the Breakers players he has coached Lemanis added “We’ve been through a lot together and had a lot of success together there is always a special bond when you meet up with those sorts of people

Q Do you hope you can meet in the quarter final?

“Wouldn’t that be great? Imagine that, an Australian v New Zealand quarter final at the World Cup, wouldn’t that be just a fantastic result for both our countries.”

Q It must be good for the credibility of Oceania to have both teams in the last 16?

“Yes and that is something that happened commonly at World cups. I remember in Turkey that both Australia and NZ went through to round of 16. We’ve been able to get through our pools and now the challenge is for one of us to make a bit more noise and go on and see if we can actually get a medal.”

Q Do you think this Australian team is capable of that?

‘That is what we set our sites on right from the start is coming here and getting a medal. It is something Australia has never done on the mens side at a world event like the Olympic games or World Cup. We have set our sites on being the first (Australian) team to get that done”

The former Breakers coach was in a positive frame of mind, fingers crossed for both the Boomers and Tall Blacks.


Thoughts of Tall Blacks ahead of USA clash

USA in game three, quite a prospect for the Tall Blacks. The NZ media asked Kirk Penney, Tom Abercrombie and coach Nenad Vucinic about the daunting prospect ahead of them. Continue reading

Thoughts from Abercrombie and Vucinic on latest Tall Blacks loss

Day two at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World cup dawned as a crucial one for the Tall Blacks. Just eighteen hours after suffering a heart breaking three-point loss against Turkey the New Zealand team entered a crucial game against the Dominican Republic in the Bizkaia Arena knowing a second defeat would make qualifying for the second phase of the competition almost impossible. Continue reading

Breakers Development trials concluded

Thirty young athletes will have to wait a few days before finding out which of them will be selected for Sky City Breakers Development players places for the 2014/15 season.

Over 50 players applied to participate in the trial from which 30 were invited to attend the two-day work out at the Breakers training facility in Mairangi Bay. Five or six of the thirty will be invited to make up the ‘D’ squad when team training gets underway in September. Continue reading

Breakers Development Trials Part 3

Teams for scrimmage games on Sunday – Duane Bailey, Jack Salt and Reuben Te Rangi added to the trial group.

Coach Fitchett

Alexander, Gerrand, Tolovae, Rusbatch, Stent, Haku, Payne and Bailey

Coach Larsen

Jones, Letoa, Witteveen, Woodbridge, Ngatai, Brooks, Freeman, Salt

Coach Haddleton

Lacey, Albertsen, Rodger, Anderson, Colenutt, Vaiangina, Barrow, Te Rangi.

Coach Tait

Ili, McCullough, Raukawa, Burton, McQueen, King-Hawea, Alok, Wetzell

Breakers Academy Trials Part 2

There are a total of 16 players that have played in the NBL this season attending trials for the Breakers Development player places for the 2014/15 ANBL season. Continue reading

Breakers Academy Trials Part 1

The Sky City Breakers are about to announce 30 players who will trial for Development player spots for the 2014/15 ANBL season. The trials will take place at Atlas Place this coming Saturday and Sunday. Continue reading

Harbour Breeze secure WBC title

The 2014 WBC Grand Final featured North Harbour Breeze and Waikato Wizards. The Wizards were backing up after a hard fought semi-final victory over competition favourites ACM Hawks, the Breeze a more straightforward success against Waitakere Rangers. Continue reading

Harbour Breeze meet Waikato Wizards in WBC Final

Waikato Wizards forward Miriam Stevens knocked down a couple of free throws to draw first blood in the first WBC Championship semi-final against Auckland Counties Manukau Lady Hawks.

 The Wizards held a slender 19- 15 lead at the end of the first quarter. Continue reading


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