The Tall Ferns basketball squad for the upcoming tour of China has been named.
Head Coach Kennedy Kereama has announced a squad of 14 players to tour China and Europe ahead of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in France next month.
The 14 players selected are:
• Micaela Cocks, aged 30, from North Harbour, plays for Townsville Fire
• Antonia Edmondson, 28, Canterbury – Perth Lynx
• Kalani Purcell, 21, Counties Manukau – Brigham Young University-Provo
• Erin Rooney, 25, Canterbury – Cote D’Opale Basket Calais, France
• Lisa Wallbutton, 30, North Harbour – Perth Redbacks
• Jessica Bygate, 24, Nelson – Adelaide Lightning/Sunbury Jets
• Chevannah Paalvast, 24, Waitakere – Townsville Fire
• Jordan Hunter, 25, Counties Manukau – Lady Hawks
• Deena Franklin, 21, North Harbour – Waitakere Lady Rangers
• Krystal Leger-Walker, 18, Waikato – Waikato Wizards
• Brooke Blair, 21, North Harbour – Idaho State University
• Katelyn Noyer, 18, Waitakere – Waitakere Lady Rangers
• Stella Beck, 20, Hutt Valley – Saint Mary’s College, California
• Penina Davidson, 20, Waitakere, University of California, Berkley
• Head Coach – Kennedy Kereama
• Assistant Coach – Chris Lucas
• Assistant Coach – Aik Ho
• Assistant Coach – Brent Matehaere (For the China leg of the tour)
• Team Manager – Gail McLauchlan
• Physio – Ariane Carroll
Stella Beck and Penina Davidson will be joining the squad in China. The other 12 players will take part in a two day preparation camp (9 -10 May) in Auckland before departing for China on Wednesday 11 May.
The squad of 14 comprises of 4 New Zealand domiciled players, 4 in the American Collegiate system and 6 overseas based professional players.
The squad will be trimmed to 12 for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament before the Spanish leg of the tour.
Kereama says the programme that has been put together is first class and has no doubt it will prepare the team to be in great shape physically and mentally for a final shot at Rio.
“We have a good group of players that have made themselves available this year, many of whom have just come off great professional or collegiate seasons. The depth in our women’s programme is at an all-time high and we have a lot of players knocking on the door and forcing themselves into contention for selection.
“Competition for places in the touring party of 14 was intense and it will be an even tougher call to name a final 12 for the Olympic Qualifiers in France.”
Kereama says this strong competition has come about largely through an increase in activity for the women’s programme combined with the emergence of a strong generation of players that are making headlines in the U.S. College system and in professional leagues overseas.
The 2016 Tour Schedule is:
• 14-16 May – Four Nations Tournament v China, Czech Republic and Montenegro in Hengyang, Hunan Province, China.
• 19-21 May – Four Nations Tournament v China, Czech Republic and Montenegro in Xilinhot, Inner Mongolia, China.
• 23-28 May – Latvia Friendlies, Riga, Latvia
• 29 May – 4 June – Four Nations Tournament v Belarus, Japan and Turkey in Minsk, Belarus.
• 5-9 June – Spain Friendlies in Asturias, Spain.
• 13-19 June – Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Nantes, France
Olympic Qualifying Tournament
The Tall Ferns will assemble alongside 12 other nations at the women’s qualifying tournament in Nantes, France: Spain, France, Belarus, Turkey (Europe); Cuba, Argentina, Venezuela (America’s); Cameroon, Nigeria (Africa), China, South Korea (Asia); and New Zealand (Oceania). Only the top five will earn a place in Rio.
New Zealand has been drawn with heavyweights France (4 in the world) and Cuba (13) in their pool, with the top two teams from each pool of three qualifying for the quarterfinals. New Zealand’s ranking of 22 in the world has them clearly marked as underdogs, but Kereama is backing his team to mix it with the best in France.
“Our build up for the Olympic Qualifier is great. We are playing a number of good teams – in fact nine of the ten are ranked above us, so we will be pushed during every game. We need the best competition possible and the tougher the games the better the preparation for our Olympic Qualification Series. The tournament is going to be cut throat and we need to be playing our best basketball when we arrive in France,” says Kereama.