The New Zealand women’s 3×3 team depart tonight for the FIBA 3×3 World Cup Qualifier tournament, being held in San Juan in Puerto Rico on 4 and 5 May.
The team roster is Tall Ferns Micaela Cocks, Penina Davidson, Chevannah Paalvast and Kalani Purcell. All but Davidson were members of the team that won the 2018 FIBA Asia Cup last year. The Harbour Breeze centre replaces the unavailable Toni Farnworth.
Davidson and Purcell (Auckland Dream) will return next week for the first round of Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC) games in Christchuch whilst Cocks and Paalvast are taking a short break from club committments in Australia.
In Puerto Rico New Zealand is in Pool B along with tough opponents: Brazil, Spain and Mali.
The top three teams from this tournament will secure their ticket to the FIBA 3×3 World Cup, which will be held in Amsterdam in June this year.
Head Coach Anthony Corban says this team brings great experience from the Asia Cup and Tall Ferns campaigns, and will fight for this as they have done in the past.
“Any time these players wear that silver fern it’s important. I have just spent the past day with Tall Ferns coach Guy Molloy and understanding his belief and values in that Tall Ferns singlet. Any opportunity these outstanding young women get to perform on the world stage is one that no one takes for granted. I know we will do our best, particularly with a shot at the World Cup and beyond that Olympic qualifying berth in 2020.
“We need to advance with small steps. We just have to make the top three in our pool to secure a playoff game for a semi-final spot. We need to improve, game by game,” says Corban.
This team has faced tough challenges off the court. Despite their gold medal win at the Asia Cup last year, their application for High Performance funding was denied. The FIBA 3×3 ranking system also plays against this talented side. Even though the New Zealand team won the Asia Cup, other teams from that same tournament that finished below have automatically qualified for the World Cup. Those include China (finished second at Asia Cup), Japan (finished fourth at Asia Cup), Indonesia (finished seventh at Asia Cup) Turkmenistan (finished 10th at Asia Cup), Iran (finished 11th at Asia Cup).
The top three teams at the 2019 FIBA 3×3 World Cup will be guaranteed a spot in an Olympic Qualifying Tournament in May 2020.
|May 4-5||FIBA 3×3 World Cup Qualifier||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|May 24-26||FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup||Changsha, China|
|June 18-23||FIBA 3×3 World Cup||Amsterdam, Netherlands|
The 3×3 Tall Ferns fly tonight from Auckland. They stay overnight in Chicago and then travel on to arrive in Puerto Rico 48 hours before their first game.