Category Archives: Tall Blacks

Double delight for the Webster’s

corey webster

There were wins for both Webster brothers in Europe at the weekend plus Euro Cup success for Isaac Fotu.

Frankfurt Skyliners have made an encouraging start in the German League. Its latest success, a 78-71 victory against Braunschweig, has given the Skyliners a 3-1 start to the season.

Kiwi guard Tai Webster is travelling well for the Skyliners averaging 12 points and 5.5 assists per game. In an impressive display against Braunschweig Webster scored 16 points and added 3 rebounds, 5 assists and a pair of steals.

It was also a good weekend In Israel for brother Corey who dished a game high 7 assists as Ironi Nahariya defeated Hapoel, Tel Aviv 102-87.

Webster senior also landed three from six triples on his way to 15 points as Nahariya moved to 1-1 after a loss in the opening round of the season.

Interestingly the shooting guard’s bio on the Nahariya website describes the 28-year old as a first year pro ignoring the fact that he played eight seasons for the Breakers.

Isaac Fotu and his new German club Ratiopharm Ulm are still awaiting a first League win after going down 92-87 at Jenna. Fotu provided 10 points (5/8FG), 7 rebounds and 3 assists but it wasn’t enough to get Ulm the win as they slip to 0-4.

Better news came in the EuroCup midweek fixture as Ulm proved too good for Turkish side Tofas Bursa beating its Group D opponents 83-73 with a dominant 28-11 final quarter showing.

Fotu contributed 5 rebounds and 10 points in the home win.


Tall Blacks 27th on World Rankings but could change in November

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The Tall Blacks currently hold a World Ranking of 27 but with FIBA introducing a new ranking formula that could change in November.

The innovative game-based ranking factors in results from official games played by 153 national teams and will be updated after every window of Qualifiers and following the conclusion of top official FIBA competitions.

The new ranking is based on results of games ranging from regional pre-qualifiers all the way to the FIBA Basketball World Cup Final, and includes the Olympic Basketball Tournament as well as the Continental Cups. The previous ranking was purely competition-based and only took into account the final standings of tournaments.

The basic principle is simple: 1,000 basis points are awarded in each game, with the two teams earning a share of these according to the margin of victory or defeat. Weightings are added on a round basis meaning that, when a team progresses through a top official FIBA competition, its wins are worth more with every round it plays.

The ranking has revised weightings of the competitions. For the first time, it sees the implementation of a time decay rewarding teams for their most recent performances. This replaces the system in place under the previous ranking, where all games over the 8-year period received the exact same value.

Finally, the new ranking also recognizes the value of away wins and rewards facing and beating opponents that are higher in the ranking.

FIBA Secretary General and International Olympic Committee (IOC) Member Patrick Baumann said: “The new ranking was devised with our new calendar clearly in mind. We are pleased to offer more teams – 153 of them, compared to 91 previously – a ranking that can be updated after every window of the Qualifiers so that national teams, fans and their national federations can follow their progress on a more regular basis.

Prior to the change, the rankings already proved to be among the most popular pages on and we expect there will be even more debating and conversations taking place following the implementation of this new one.”

For now, the new FIBA World Ranking Men, presented by Nike, only applies to senior men’s national teams and competitions. FIBA will work towards drawing up and implementing similar systems for the women’s and youth (boys and girls) rankings at a later stage.

The Tall Blacks begin its World Cup Qualifying campaign with Asian Zone fixtures against Korea in Wellington on November 23rd and in Hong Kong on November 26th.

A loss in either fixture would see New Zealand’s ranking dip as both Korea (34th) and Hong Kong (82nd) hold a lower ranking than the Tall Blacks.

It is expected that the Tall Blacks will be close to full strength for both fixtures with European based players Isaac Fotu, Tai Webster and Corey Webster all likely to be available.

Webster, Fotu and Harmon debut as European season begins

Tai Webster

A number of the European Basketball Leagues began at the weekend and two of them the German Bundesliga and the Italian League featured Kiwi internationals debuting for their respective clubs.

It was mixed news from Germany for Tai Webster and Isaac Fotu.

Webster was making his debut in the colours of Frankfurt Skyliners and his 15 points contributed to a solid 82-70 away win at Jena for the Skyliners.

Webster committed a nervy 5 turnovers, understandable in his first professional game,  but more than made up for those errors as he added 4 rebounds, a couple of steals and a game high 7 assists to his points haul in 30 minutes of impressive action.

It wasn’t such good news for Fotu who, after three seasons playing in Spain, was making his debut in Germany for Ratiopharm Ulm. A costly third period lost 25-14 by Ulm, in front of a sold out home crowd, was a major contributor to a 68-72 defeat.

Fotu, like Webster, was inserted into the starting five and played 26 minutes – the Tall Blacks forward scored 6 points (3/6FG) and notched 4 rebounds.

Jillian Harmon is entering her eighth season playing in the highly regarded Italian League.

The Tall Ferns forward has transferred from defending champions Le Mura Lucca to join Napoli and marked her debut for her new club with a fine double double of 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Harmon also added 6 assists as Napoli won 64-58 at San Martino to get Napoli’s season off to a winning start.

Corey Webster has another week to wait before he makes his debut for Ironi Nahariya with the Israeli League commencing October 8th.

The Fotu’s have something special going on


At some stage in mid 2018 Daniel Fotu will head to San Francisco to link up with the players and coaching staff at St Mary’s College.

The St Mary’s play in the NCAA Division 1 West Coast Conference and the Rangitoto College senior this week signed a letter of intent to suit up for the Randy Bennett coached Gaels for the 2018-19 season and beyond.

There is nothing new of course about Kiwi’s heading to college in the States, after all over thirty young New Zealand players are at Division 1 universities heading into the new season that begins at the end of October.

However what may be unique is that three siblings from the same family have gained basketball scholarships to the USA.


The first Fotu to dip his toes in the US was Isaac who headed to the University of Hawaii in 2012 playing two seasons with the Warriors before turning pro.

The 23-year-old Tall Black regular has recently signed with leading German club Ratiopharm Ulm for the 2017-18 European season. The power forward has spent the last three seasons playing in Spain firstly for La Bruixa d’Or Manresa and for the past two seasons CAI Zaragoza.

Sister Gabriella (Ella) had a less than happy time at Boise State in 2015-16 but enjoyed a successful 2016-17 campaign at Hawaii Pacific. The 21-year-old guard averaged 7.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists last season for the Sharks earning an honourable mention in the All-PacWest Conference. Ella scored a season high 19 points at Notre Dame de Namur in January.

ella fotu

18 year-old Daniel, was a member of the Junior Tall Blacks team that recorded an historic win against Australia at the 2016 Oceania Championships in Fiji last December. Dan averaged 7.5 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists in the tournament but injury ruled him out of the subsequent 2017 U19 World Cup in Cairo last July

All three Fotu’s have attended Rangitoto College on Auckland’s north shore. A school that has produced, in addition to Isaac, full internationals Penina Davidson, Brooke Blair, Tai Wynyard and most famously Sean Marks.

Dan already has two Schick New Zealand Secondary Schools National Championships winner’s medals to his name and heads to Palmerston North next week hoping to make it a trifecta.

Neither Ella nor Isaac enjoyed the thrill of winning a Secondary Schools championship but both picked up national titles playing for North Harbour. In fact the pair received the unusual distinction of claiming the MVP title at the same tournament – the Under 23 National Championships in Tauranga in 2013. Ella led Harbour to the Women’s title against Waikato and Isaac the men’s as they defeated Counties Manukau to claim gold.


All three have turned out for Harbour whenever possible, with Ella giving up part of her recent summer break from Hawaii to play for Harbour Breeze in the Women’s Basketball Championship. She made an immediate impact on her return averaging a team high 18 points per game as the Breeze clinched the Plate title in Christchurch back in July.

Perhaps basketball in New Zealand can bottle the genetics of the Fotu seniors Manu and Jenny because whatever they have seems to be a potent potion.

Oh, and the Fotu’s may not be finished yet – 13 year old Jacob, a budding hoopster, is in year 9 at Rangitoto – watch this space.

Isaac Letoa reflects on sensational past twelve months


Isaac Letoa

The teenage Tall Black has had a year he will never forget. He reflects on his full international debut, epic campaign with the Junior Tall Blacks and of course securing a scholarship at prestigious Ivy League School, Dartmouth College. I spoke with Isaac before he left for the USA.

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Mike Karena Remains in Spain


Canterbury Rams centre Mike Karena has become the third New Zealand player to join a new club in Europe for the 2017-18 season.

Karena has signed on with Actel Forca Lleida in the Spanish LEB Gold Division. This is a step up for Karena who last season averaged 14 points and 6 rebounds per game for ISB Sammic in the LEB Silver Division.

The LEB Gold Division is the Spanish second tier competition nestling under Liga Endesa the competition Isaac Fotu played in for the past three seasons. Liga Endesa is widely regarded as the strongest club competition outside the NBA.

Fotu has of course moved to Germany and signed for Ratiopharm Ulm and Corey Webster, after initially signing for Perth Wildcats, has joined Israeli club Ironi Nahariya.

It is anticipated that Tai Webster, recently graduated from the University of Nebraska, will become the fourth Tall Black to play in Europe during the upcoming season.

Tall Blacks going OK in China

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The new look Tall Blacks are going OK in China. After being whacked by China in the opening game they have since gone 1-2 with the two losses to Lithuania being by 1 point and 4 points.

Second game against China tonight followed by Angola on Friday – then it is off to the Asia Cup.

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Fotu finishes his reign in Spain


Fotu won’t be seen in Zaragoza colours next season

As expected Isaac Fotu has parted ways with Spanish club Zaragoza and signed with Ratiopharm Ulm in the German Bundesliga for the next two seasons.

Currently enjoying a reasonable break from the game, after being excused Tall Blacks duty during the current international campaign, Fotu will link up with Ulm after spending the past three seasons in Spain.

After leaving the University of Hawaii in November 2014 Fotu was snapped up by Zaragoza but initially loaned out to La Bruixa d’Or Manresa for the remainder of the 2014-15 Liga Endesa season.

Returning to Zaragoza the following season the former Rangitoto College standout averaged 7.7 points and 4.4 rebounds in League action across 34 games. In addition he played 18 Eurocup games averaging 9.1 points per outing.

Last season the power forward averaged 9.1 points per game in 32 games for Zaragoza.

His three seasons in Spain have largely involved fighting relegation battles but the prospects are brighter in Germany as Ratiopharm went 30-2 last season to take out the Bundesliga regular season title before being eliminated in the semi-finals of the play-offs.

Ngatai again leads the NZ Select scoring


Jordan Ngatai, following a 16 points outing against Montenegro on Friday, scored 18 points against hosts Jiangsu as NZ Select made it two from two on their six games tour of China.

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Abercrombie finally gets a run and is it adiós Zaragoza for Fotu?


Tom Abercrombie was given an overdue opportunity by Demir IBB as they went down 86-79 to Galatasaray at the weekend. Relishing just a second appearance in the last seven weeks the Breakers swingman responded with 13 points and 6 rebounds for the Turkish club.

Abercrombie landed all three of his three point attempts and shot 5 from 8 overall in just his seventh appearance for Demir.

Meanwhile in Spain could Isaac Fotu have played his last game for Zaragoza?

Zaragoza went down 90-85 at home to Estudiantes to conclude a disappointing season in the Spanish League.The club finished last but one on the 17 team ladder winning just nine of 32 games.

Fotu played in all 32 games averaging 9.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.

With his three year contract with Zaragoza now expired it will be interesting to see if Fotu attracts offers from some of the bigger named Liga Endesa clubs.