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.


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