Junior Tall Ferns Head Coach Brent Matehaere has named a 14 player squad for a home series against China U19. Seven of the squad toured China with the JTF’s earlier in the year.
The Junior Tall Ferns will play the Chinese in two internationals in Christchurch in early September with Matehaere vowing to play an attractive style of basketball.
“We are trying to create a brand of basketball that the girls enjoy and want to perform. They have to be locked in to every possession, that’s our focus in order to give ourselves a chance odf success on the international stage.”.
The games against China are a key component of the build up towards the FIBA Oceania Championships to be played in Fiji in December. The Championships will double as the Qualifying Tournament for the 2017 Under 19 World Championships.
Matehaere attended the New Zealand Under 19 Championships in Nelson to check on the progress of a number of players. “We wanted to see if they have done the things we asked them to do between the tour of China back in April and now. To see if they are making those steps in the right direction,” he said.
“The selection process began in early 2015 and we (Matehaere and assistant coaches Bronwen Davidson and Trent Adam) have been observing players both in New Zealand and overseas since then.”
“We have been casting the net as wide as possible to put the best team possible on the floor that we can.
“We have sat down together as coaches and assessed how we are going to beat Australia at the Oceania Championships – that’s our goal. We believe that we can put together a group that can challenge the Australian way of playing and challenge their systems.
Four of the players, Zara Jillings and the Waikato trio of Charlisse Leger-Walker, Alyssa Hirawani and Kendell Heremaia were members of the New Zealand team that finished fifth at the FIBA Under 18 3×3 World Championships in Kazakhstan in June.
In addition Charlotte Whittaker and Tiarna Clarke both played for the New Zealand Select team against China B in Auckland over Queens Birthday weekend.
Matehaere is delighted a number of his charges have been able to gain additional international experience.
“It helps that they have had that exposure to international basketball, international travel, dealing with tough places to live, tough playing enviroments. All those little things help with the preperation for the challenges ahead,” he said.
Having home internationals for our New Zealand age group teams is a rarity. The opportunities the two game series with China presents are not lost on Matehaere.
“To have China U19 here, who are preparing for the Asia U19 Championships, is awesome. It is a great opportunity for the 14 players that are available to perform in front of their whanau and display their talents and showcase the international game here in New Zealand, we are really looking forward to it.
I’m sure the Canterbury fans, who love their basketball, will come out in droves to see this team play,” he added.
Canterbury Basketball CEO Paul Duggan is also confident the locals will support the games.
“We are delighted to be once again hosting international basketball in Christchurch. The support for the Tall Ferns series last year against Japan was excellent and we anticipate that the interest in the two game series against China Under 19’s will be equally strong.”
Junior Tall Ferns Squad
Tiarna Clarke (North Harbour)
Aliyah Dunn (Southland)
Jayden Fuiava (Queensland South)
Kendell Heremaia (Waikato)
Alyssa Hirawani (Waikato)
Joellen How (Taranaki)
Zara Jillings (North Harbour)
Charlisse Leger-Walker (Waikato)
Esra McGoldrick (Canterbury)
Bayley Ransfield (Taranaki)
Tera Reed (Life Center Academy, New Jersey, USA / North Harbour)
Nicole Ruske (Otago)
Stirling Walker-Pitman (Waikato)
Charlotte Whittaker (North Canterbury)
McKenna Dale (Edwin O Smith High School, Connecticut, USA) and Darci Finnigan (Waitakere West) are selected in the extended squad but unavailable for the series v China.
Coola Baudry and Katie Diakhaby were both unavailable for selection.
Games v China Under 19
Wednesday September 7th, tip off 1.00pm
Thursday September 8th, tip off 7.30pm
Both games will be played at Cowles Stadium, Christchurch.
Canterbury Basketball are repeating the format that worked well for the Tall Ferns v Japan internationals in