Category Archives: Tall Blacks

Kiwis in good form in Europe including a big performance from Corey Webster


It was a pretty good week for our leading Kiwi players in Europe with all four making major contributions.

In Israel, Ironi Nahariya went down 96-88 at home to Ironi Nes-Ziona but the loss couldn’t be blamed on Corey Webster. The Tall Blacks shooting guard scored a game high 27 points as well as dishing 6 assists. His shooting line made good reading – 3 from 5 threes, 11 from 15 in total from the floor and both free throws knocked down. Webster’s 27 points equaled his season best for Nahariya for whom he averages 16 points per game.

Frankfurt Skyliners guard Tai Webster was missing from action last week due to illness but returned to the court in the 90-82 Bundesliga win against Oettinger. Webster recorded 14 points (4/7FG), 2 rebounds, 4 assists and a pair of steals as the Skyliners improved to 14 wins -11 losses, holding 7th spot on the German League ladder.

Webster did well containing Sydney Kings star point guard Jerome Randle who had 14 points for Oettinger – that’s better than most Australian NBL guards managed this season.

Two places behind the Skyliners are Ratiopharm Ulm who beat bottom of the table Walter Tigers 95-82. Isaac Fotu was in good form for Ulm notching 18 points (8/11FG) and 5 rebounds. It was a much-needed win for Ulm as they had lost their previous four games.

In Italy Jillian Harmon produced 17 points (8/17FG), 7 rebounds and 2 assists as Napoli recorded a valuable 69-66 win against San Martino. Napoli had lost their previous two games but the win solidifies their 4th placed spot in Serie A with just one round of the regular season remaining.


Corey Webster struggles to match Tall Blacks form

corey webster

The outstanding shooting form Corey Webster displayed for the Tall Blacks in the recent FIBA international window seems to have temporarily deserted him.

The shooting guard has made just 2 from 15 threes in the two games he has played for Ironi Nahariya since returning to the Israeli League following the New Zealand games in China and Korea.

Webster had 10 points, 5 assists and 2 steals in the 83-62 loss at Maccabi Ashdod and 13 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists in the 89-79 home defeat to Maccabi Rishon.

With the two losses Irono Hahariya (7-10) have slipped to 10th on the 12-team Israeli League ladder.

Also suffering a pair of losses have been Isaac Fotu and Ratiopharm Ulm. In fact Ulm were absolutely pummeled on Fotu’s first game back from Korea going down 89-54 against Ludwigsburg – 4 points for the Kiwi forward.

Fotu top scored with 15 points (6/9FG) for Ulm in their latest game, a 90-67 loss to Brose Basket but an accumulated points differential of -58 points suggests there is a little work needed at the defensive end in practice this week.

Ulm have fallen to 10th on the Bundesliga ladder with a 12-11 record.

There was a little more joy for Tai Webster as he posted 16 points (5/15FG), 3 rebounds and 6 assists as Frankfurt Skyliners defeated Wuerzburg 78-72.

In their most recent game the Skyliners fell 95-92 in a thriller against Goettingen but were without Webster in the lineup with the Tall Blacks point guard missing due to sickness. The Skyliners are a couple of places above Ulm on the German League ladder with 13 wins and 11 losses.

After a four game winning streak Napoli have recently lost two games on the bounce – the most recent defeat a 70-49 loss at third placed Ragusa. Jillian Harmon was one of just two Napoli players in double figures scoring 14 points (5/15FG) and adding 8 rebounds. Napoli remains fourth on the Italian League ladder with an 11-9 record.

The Tall Ferns forward leads the Serie A in scoring (19.2ppg), is 3rd in rebounding (9.7rpg) and 7th in the assists category (3.5apg).

Isaac Fotu loses bragging rights to Tai Webster


Prior to the last FIBA international window Tai Webster and Isaac Fotu went head to head for their respective clubs in Germany before boarding a plane to New Zealand for the Tall Black’s game against Korea.

Once again, ahead of the Tall Blacks trip to China and Korea, the Bundesliga fixtures pitched the two Kiwis in direct opposition.

The storyline was the same in both instances with the visitors getting the W on each occasion.

Back in November Fotu and his club Ratiopharm Ulm stole the win on Frankfurt Skyliners home court.

There was a reverse of fortunes on Wednesday night as the Skyliners pinched the narrowest of wins (78-77) at Ulm with Webster making 5 points (2/2FG, 1/1FT) and dishing 3 assists. Fotu had 10 points (5/6FG) and 5 rebounds for Ulm.

Ulm are in seventh spot on the German League ladder with a 12-9 record one place ahead of Frankfurt who have the same number of wins but have an additional loss.

Both Kiwis are in good form ahead of the internationals. Fotu scored 24 points in each of the previous two games for Ulm and Webster also nabbed 24 points a couple of games back for Frankfurt.

Webster is averaging 15.7 points and 4.8 assists per game for the Skyliners with Fotu claiming 13.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per outing for Ulm.

The pair will fly direct to China after the weekend to link up with their Tall Blacks teammates ahead of the Asian Zone World Cup Qualifiers against China next Friday and Korea in Seoul three days later. The bulk of the Tall Blacks team depart from Sydney on Monday following the Breakers game against the Kings on Sunday afternoon.

Major Tall Ferns and Tall Blacks announcements

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The Tall Blacks playing group for the upcoming FIBA international window has been named ahead of the announcement of the new Tall Ferns head coach due in the next fourty-eight hours.

The MBO New Zealand Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare has named a largely predictable squad for the upcoming FIBA World Cup Qualifying games in China and Korea although there are a couple of changes from the group that played Korea and Hong Kong in November.

Not surprisingly Mika Vukona has been spared a couple of long international flights with Dan Fotu and Ethan Rubatch added to the other thirteen that assembled in Wellington last year.

Former Rangitoto College standout Fotu, currently a development player with the Breakers, has been named with an eye on the future and if selected in the final 12, will join his older brother Isaac who will join the team from the German League.

Rusbatch played last year in the Asia Cup and is recalled to the squad, presumably with one eye on the Commonwealth Games in April when it is unlikely that the European based guards – Tai and Corey Webster – will be available.

The squad of 15 will be reduced to 12 following the completion of the NBL regular season at the weekend. Those 12 players will assemble in China on February 20th to begin training for the crucial games against China (February 23rd) and Korea (February 26th) as they continue towards the ultimate goal, a place at the 2019 FIBA World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

The two road games against the strongest contenders in World Cup Qualifying Group A have assumed greater importance with the Tall Blacks dropping the home tie against Korea in November, before an easy defeat of Hong Kong away from home.

Henare has named 15 players to cover the event of injury or unavailability, with many players involved in club games this weekend, including the SKYCITY Breakers as they face two games in three days, playing the Illawarra Hawks at home on Friday night, before travelling to Sydney to play the Kings on Sunday to round out their regular season in the NBL.

“We have reviewed and gone over November’s window in fine detail, but the bottom line is we didn’t come out firing, we weren’t as ready as we should have been against Korea in Wellington.

“This window has an even tighter schedule, we will get together for the first time as a group in China, have two days on the floor and then go to battle against a very good side, arguably one of the toughest in the world to beat at home.

“We have and will continue to do all we can to learn from November’s experience, to be ready and to play as we expect the Tall Blacks to play, fighting for every possession, punching above our weight and not taking a backward step.”

The team has plenty of experience to all on in the likes of Tom Abercrombie, Corey Webster, and Jarrod Kenny, while Isaac Fotu and Tai Webster will make the trip from Germany where both are putting up good numbers in one of Europe’s best professional leagues.

Also included are Shea Ili, Reuben Te Rangi, Jordan Ngatai, Derone Raukawa and Finn Delany – all playing in the Australian League and all played big minutes at the 2017 Asia Cup in Beirut. Te Rangi will again captain the side.

The team is well served in the size department too, with Breakers centre’s Rob Loe and Alex Pledger leading the front court, along with Tohi Smith-Milner, who has impressed with Melbourne United this season.

Vukona was not cleared by the Breakers medical team as he continues to manage his way through a busy end to the regular season.

“The advice on Mika is that he shouldn’t travel and play in these games and has therefore not been released. He remains an integral part of our group however and plays a huge role what we are trying to achieve in the long term.”

Henare will leave a final decision on the 12 to travel until the last moment, with a final check on fitness before players board planes from various parts of the world after games this weekend.

The bulk of the team will depart from Sydney on Monday 19th, following the completion of NBL games over the weekend.

Tall Blacks Roster to play China and Korea, February 2018

Point guards: Shea Ili (SKYCITY Breakers), Jarrod Kenny (Perth Wildcats), Tai Webster (Fraport Skyliners), Derone Raukawa (SKYCITY Breakers)

Shooting guards: Reuben Te Rangi (Brisbane Bullets), Corey Webster (Ironi Nahariya), Ethan Rusbatch

Small forwards: Tom Abercrombie (SKYCITY Breakers), Jordan Ngatai (SKYCITY Breakers), Finn Delany (SKYCITY Breakers), Dan Fotu (SKYCITY Breakers)

Power forwards: Isaac Fotu (Ratiopharm Ulm), Tohi Milner-Smith (Melbourne United)

Centres: Rob Loe (SKYCITY Breakers), Alex Pledger (SKYCITY Breakers)

Head Coach: Paul Henare
Assistant Coaches: Pero Cameron, Michael Fitchett
Physiotherapist: Anousith Bouaaphone
Massage Therapist: Shelley Hiha
Manager: Andrew Dewhurst


For more information contact:

Andrew Dewhurst
Team Manager
MBO Tall Blacks
021 535501

MBO Tall Blacks – schedule and further information

24 February, 12:30am NZT: China v MBO Tall Blacks. Livestreamed on and delayed broadcast on Maori TV at 1pm, 24 Feb.
26 February, 11:30pm NZT: Korea V MBO Tall Blacks. Livestreamed on and delayed broadcast 11:30am on 27 Feb.



24 points each for Fotu and Tai Webster

Isaac Fotu copy

Our four leading European based players almost scored 100 points between them at the weekend.

The two German based players, Tai Webster and Isaac Fotu, scored 24 points apiece, Corey Webster posted 18 points, with Jillian Harmon chiming in with 23 points.

Isaac Fotu amassed his fourth twenty points haul of the season as Ratiopharm Ulm won on the road beating Goettingen 94-84. His 24 points (7/10FG, 8/9FT) were accompanied by a stats line of 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and an assist. The third consecutive win for Ulm moves them into 6th spot on the Bundesliga ladder with a 12-7 record.

A crowd of 4,860 was on hand to see an injury ravaged Frankfurt Skyliners outpaced in the final quarter losing 88-81 at home to Riessen. Tai Webster’s team high two-dozen were scored at a good clip converting 8 of 11 from the field and 3 from 4 from the charity stripe.

Overall Webster is enjoying a good season as he is top eight in the Bundesliga for scoring (15.8 ppg) and assists (4.8 apg)

Corey Webster scored 18 points as Ironi Nahariya returned to winning ways beating Galil Gilboa 101-98 in a high scoring affair. Webster was in good touch converting 6 from 10 from the field and three from three from the foul line.

Nahariya remain eighth in the Israeli League with a 7-9 record.

In Italy Jillian Harmon posted a second consecutive double-double as Napoli beat Vigarano 78-61. The Tall Ferns forward collected 12 rebounds to compliment 23 points with Napoli now up to third equal on the Italian League ladder with a 10-7 record.

Harmon is the Italian League leading scorer averaging 19.6 points per game and the fourth placed rebounder claiming 9.5 boards per outing.

OK 89 points is not that close to 100 but it’s still pretty good!

Webster brothers in good form in Europe

corey webster

The Webster brothers led the scoring for their respective club teams in Europe at the weekend but there was a contrast in the outcomes of their games.

Older brother Corey made 18 points – including four from seven threes – but Ironi Nahariya were defeated 72-69 by Bnei Hertzeliya. Nahariya have slipped to eighth in the Israeli League with a 6-9 record.

Tai Webster scored a game high 21 points (6/13FG, 8/8FT) and also posted 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals for German side Frankfurt Skyliners. The Skyliners struggled against bottom club Walter Tigers before eventually winning 65-57 to improve to 11-8 and eighth spot on the Bundesliga table.

One place above the Skyliners are Ratiopharm Ulm (11-7) after an 87-72 victory over Jena. Isaac Fotu produced 11 points (5/9FG), 6 rebounds and 4 assists as Ulm secured a second straight win.

In Italy Jillian Harmon came up with a big double-double of 28 points (12/25FG) and 14 rebounds to lead Napoli to a 71-67 win against Broni. The victory pushes Napoli up to fourth on the Italian League ladder with a 9-7 record.

Kiwis key contributors in Europe

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It was a last gasp effort but Ratiopharm Ulm, with a score on the buzzer, beat Oettinger Rockets 81-79. Isaac Fotu was outstanding for Ulm racking up 25 points (10/15FG, 5/6FT) to accompany 3 rebounds, an assist, a block and a steal.

Fotu’s third twenty points haul of the season helped lift Ulm to eighth on the German League ladder with a 10-7 record.

Also in Germany Tai Webster scored 15 points (7/10FG) as Frankfurt Skyliners suffered a heavy 96-74 loss to Bayreuth to slip to 10-8 for the season and a spot behind Ulm on the Bundesliga table. Webster added 5 rebounds and 6 assists but it was the Skyliners third loss on the bounce.

Webster sits 8th on the German League scoring list averaging 15.0 points per game and is 4th on the assists slate with 5.0 dimes per outing.

In Italy Napoli got back to winning ways comfortably beating Battipaglias 95-61. Napoli are fifth on the Serie A ladder with a 7-6 record. Jillian Harmon produced her sixth double-double of the season (20 points and 10 rebounds) shooting a perfect ten of ten from the foul line in the process.

The Tall Ferns forward leads the Italian League scoring averaging 18.9 points per game and is third on the rebounding chart with 9.1 boards per outing. To emphasise her all court game she is also fifth on the assists list averaging 3.6 per game.

Boagni and Blair headline this week’s review of college hoops


In the latest news from college hoops the performance of the week belongs to Cantabrian Tessa Boagni and the stat of the week to Brooke Blair.

Boagni posted a career high 36 points as California State Northridge Matadors edged Cal State Fullerton 70-68 in their Big West Conference opener. She completed her ninth career double-double with 10 rebounds in a performance labeled by Matadors head coach Jason Flowers as “Big time – the numbers speak for themselves.”

Those numbers included 11 from 21 shooting from the field and 14 made free throws from 16 attempts.

Blair had back-to-back 14 points outings for Idaho State Bengals. The Bengals are 2-1 in Big Sky Conference play after a 76-70 defeat at the hands of Southern Utah and a bounce back 75-55 win at Northern Arizona.

Blair’s 5 from 9 shooting from beyond the arc across the two games has propelled her to the top of the NCAA Division 1 three-point shooting percentage chart.

This season the former Rangitoto College guard has made 34 from 67 attempts (50.7%).

Put into context, with 349 Women’s NCAA Division 1 basketball programmes, Blair is ahead of over 3,500 players on the shooting chart she heads. Blair has connected with at least one triple in every game and is leading the Bengals scoring in this campaign averaging 14 points per outing.

Stella Beck was also in good form scoring a season high 24 points as St Mary’s Gaels beat San Diego 75-53 to improve to 3-1 in West Coast Conference play. The former Hutt Valley guard had a shooting night to remember missing just once from 11 attempts.

Penina Davidson made 7 points and garnered 9 rebounds as Cal Berkeley Golden Bears improved to 2-2 in the highly competitive Pac 12 Conference – the Bears won at Arizona but only just (53-51).

Zara Jillings has enjoyed plenty of court time for Fordham University recently as the Rams have begun Atlantic 10 Conference play with three wins on the bounce, the latest victory a narrow 66-63 win against St Louis. Jillings has started all three conference games averaging 32 minutes, 7.7 points, 4 rebounds and three assists. Her shooting has also been impressive in the three game swing connecting with 10 of 16 shots at 63%.

Also in the Atlantic 10 Virginia Commonwealth Rams slipped to 0-3 after going down to Duquesne 70-51. On a positive note Tera Reed was the only Rams player in double figures scoring 13 points to add to 4 rebounds.

It was almost all the five’s for Krystal Leger-Walker as Northern Colorado Bears clawed Montana 68-50 for a fourth straight Big Sky Conference victory. Leger-Walker had four assists and a quintet of points, rebounds and steals.

14,400 spectators were on hand to see Jack Salt and University of Virginia Cavaliers take down the defending NCAA champions, North Carolina 61-49. Salt (4pts/3rebs/1block) was at the heart of the Cavs defensive effort described by NCU head coach Roy Williams as, “About as good a defensive game as we’ve had anybody play against us.”

Bad week in Europe for Kiwis


It was a bad weekend for our four Kiwi national representatives playing in major leagues in Europe – all four suffered defeats.

In Germany Tai Webster and Frankfurt Skyliners suffered a home loss to Telekom Bonn beaten 81-76 to slip to 10-7 for the season. Webster enjoyed a good personal showing with 15 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals.

Ratiopharm Ulm are a win behind Frankfurt after a narrow 80-77 loss at Brose. Isaac Fotu, with 14 points (5/7FG), was one of four Ulm players in double figures.

In Israel Corey Webster scored 8 points and dished 5 assists but Ironi Nahariya were defeated 98-90 at Hapoel Holon. Nahariya slip to a 5-6 record sitting seventh on the Israeli League ladder.

Napoli went down 76-70 at home to Ragusa in the Italian League falling to sixth on the ladder with a 7-6 record. Jillian Harmon scored a fair chunk of the Napoli points – 28 to be exact, two shy of her season best. Harmon leads the Italian League scoring averaging 19.1 points per game and is fourth on the rebounding list with 9.4 boards per outing illustrating the outstanding season the Tall Ferns forward is having.

Mixed results for our Tall Blacks in Europe to close out 2017

Tai Webster copy

In Germany Tai Webster and Frankfurt Skyliners had a loss and a win sandwiched in between Xmas and the New Year.

Webster scored 20 points, including a perfect three from three from beyond the arc, as the Skyliners took care of Walter Tigers 90-63 on Boxing Day.

Three days later they went down 81-64 against Wurzburg – for the second game running Webster recorded 5 assists and also added 10 points.

Ratiopharm Ulm only had one game in the same period but it was against German League leaders Bayern Munich. Bayern have only lost one game this season and proved too strong for Ulm winning 89-75. Isaac Fotu had his quietest game of the season attempting just one shot in 18 minutes of action an finished on zero points, a single rebound and one steal.

The Skyliners sit sixth on the Bundesliga ladder with a 10-6 record and Ulm one place back with 9 wins and 6 losses.

In Israel there is a break in the competition with Corey Webster not due back on court until early January.

Dion Prewster is averaging 9 points per game for Paderborn who have a 6-10 record and sit 12th of 16 teams on the German second division ladder.

In the Spanish second division Mike Karena scored a season best 18 points for Forca Lieda in their 95-80 win against Melilla. Lieda are mid-table with a 7-8 record.