Category Archives: Tall Blacks

Tall Blacks takeaways

Tall Blacks Mission accomplished.

The Tall Blacks return home with three valuable FIBA World Cup Qualifying victories safely secured from the Philippines.

As expected the passage in the two games against India was reasonably serene (101-46 and 95-60 victories) but the contest against the hosts in Manila had the look of a potential ‘banana skin’ given the youth and inexperience of the New Zealand squad. Even the name of the home stadium, the Araneta Coliseum, sounded rather foreboding.

The Filipinos were well in the contest early in the third quarter trailing 40-33 but the Kiwis dominated the remainder of the game to run out comfortable 88-63 victors – Prewster, Loe, Samuel and Vodanovich were outstanding.

The Philippine’s connection.

For Taane Samuel and Richie Rodger, making their Tall Blacks debut in the Philippines added an extra dimension to the thrill of the occasion given both players had two-year stints on basketball scholarships in the Philippines not that long ago.

Rodger, recently signed with the Taranaki Airs, played at the  University of the East in 2019 and 2020.

Samuel, currently a Development Payer with the Brisbane Bullets attended De La Salle University.

“I just wanted to showcase what I can do because people didn’t really have faith in me when I was here and especially playing for La Salle, one of the biggest schools in the Philippines,” said Samuel post game.

“This game was big for me, It’s so exhilarating for me to play here again,” he added.

Loe and behold.

Unloved by the Breakers coaching staff Rob Loe demonstrated he still has game, compiling back-to-back-to back double doubles.

Having not featured in the last five Breakers games, with Dan Shamir appearing to have put his 101 game veteran out to pasture, the 30 year-old demonstrated his value in no uncertain terms.

He averaged 16 points, 10 rebounds and a couple of assists across the three games shooting the three-ball at a healthy 35% (6/17) and now has 530 points in 89 games for the Tall Blacks.

Debutants.

In addition to the afore mentioned Samuel and Rodger, Auckland Tuatara wing Taki Fahrensohn played all three games in Manila as did Bay Hawks forward Hyrum Harris. New Franklin Bulls signing Jayden Bezzant and Canterbury Rams guard Joe Cook-Green had two outings while Brayden Inger played the final game against India.

The Southland Sharks wing marked his debut by knocking down his only shot – a corner three!

Potency at point guard.

The accomplished performances of Canterbury Rams point guard Taylor Britt raises the question, has the men’s national team ever been blessed with such depth in this position?

Tai Webster, Shea Ili and Jarrod Kenny are all proven performers on the international stage and Izayah Mauriohooho-Le’afa, who appears to be the next cab off the rank, is in sparkling form for South East Melbourne Phoenix.

Britt will probably have to bide his time before regular opportunities occur – perhaps trips away with the New Zealand 3×3 team to the Asia Cup and Commonwealth Games may be the 25 year-old’s next international assignments.

Rising stocks

Not too many of the squad that went to the Philippines would make a full strength Tall Blacks 12 if named tomorrow but Tom Vodanovich and Dion Prewster, in particular, certainly enhanced their reputations.

Over the three games Vodanovich scored the most points (61) and was second highest in rebounds (24), assists (10) and steals (5). He also demonstrated his improved accuracy from the three-point line making a team high 9 from 17 at 53%.

Prewster, who captained the team in Manila, was reliability and composure personified playing a team high 89 minutes, averaging 5 assists per outing and rock solid on defence.

The fate of Korea?

South Korea failed to arrive in Manila citing a Covid case(s) in their camp prior to departure. Given they were the only team not to show up in the World Cup Qualifying window, that involved 79 national teams playing across four continents the chances are FIBA will come down harshly on them.

Although no official word has come from FIBA the fact that on their website the Asia Qualifiers Group A table shows Korea as disqualified is not a good omen for the South Korean administration in Seoul.

We’ll meet again…..

The Tall Blacks won’t have to wait long before locking horns again with India and the Philippines.

The draw for the 2022 FIBA Asia Cup pits New Zealand in Group D alongside Lebanon, India and the Philippines.

Postponed from last year the stand-alone Asia Cup will be held in Indonesia from July 12-24 with another World Cup qualifying window earlier that month.

Roll on July.

Tall Blacks crush India with five debutants, face Philippines next

The Tall Blacks will face the Philippines in their second FIBA World Cup Qualifying fixture in Manila on Sunday (tip-off at midnight NZ time).

The Tall Blacks overpowered India in the opening game on Thursday winning 101-46 to record New Zealand’s largest ever margin of victory in the four games ever-played against India.

The win was expected, the margin of victory not so, given the Tall Blacks had only had two full training sessions together before the fixture.

“It’s just nice to get back on court again, as this is our first international in two years,” said Tall Blacks assistant coach Daryl Cartwright.

“We are happy despite the limited practice time we had. Our players were hungry and were keen to represent the country, so we are happy with the win overall.”

Tom Vodanovich led the way with 21 points while Ethan Rusbatch (18 points), Rob Loe (15) and Taylor Britt (11) were the other players in double figures. The double digit outings by Vodanovich, Rusbatch and Britt were all international career highs.

International debuts were handed to Taki Fahrensohn, Joe Cook-Green, Taane Samuel, Hyrum Harris and Jayden Bezzant while Ben Gold and Taylor Britt were making just their second appearances.

The Tall Blacks (#27 on the FIBA world rankings) have faced the Philippines (ranked 33rd) on seven previous occasions winning four of those contests. The most recent match-up was in 2016 in Manila when the Tall Blacks won an Olympic Qualifying tie 89-80.

The leading scorers on that occasion were Tai Webster (25 points), Corey Webster (23pts), Isaac Fotu (17pts) and Tom Abercrombie (13pts).

The experienced Rob Loe, with 87 appearances (82 Tests), has played more games for the Tall Blacks than the rest of the current squad added together.

The Breakers centre made his senior international debut in 2009 while still at Westlake Boys High School and now needs to score just three points to tally 500 points for the Tall Blacks. 

Ethan Rusbatch is next best with 235 points in 36 appearances.

The largest margin of victory against the Philippines came in 1975 when the Tall Blacks won a home test 128-73 when the likes of Stan Hill, John MacDonald and Stu Ferguson were terrorising Filipino defenders. 

The two members of the 14-man squad in Manila that didn’t feature against India were Richie Rodger and Brayden Inger. It will be interesting to see if coach Pero Cameron gives these two players their international initiations on Sunday. I suspect the pair will have to wait until the second outing against India, on Monday, to don the black singlet. 

*Stats provided by Tall Blacks and Tall Ferns statistician Tony O’Connor.

Division I wrap – Graham and Perrott-Hunt lead their teams to victory

20th ranked BYU had little trouble with Pepperdine putting up a ton to win 104-53. Tegan Graham eased to 18 points on 4 from 6 from deep, Arielle Mackey-Williams scored 8 points with Kaylee Smiler dishing 3 assists as BYU stayed top of the West Coast Conference (WCC) standings

There were also three Kiwis on show in the WCC matchup between Saint Mary’s Gaels and Portland Pilots. Portland prevailed 73-63 with Emme Shearer tallying 3 steals, 2 blocks and 3 points after missing the previous two games. For St Mary’s Tayla Dalton scored 10 points, dished 4 assists and made a couple of blocks. Jade Kirisone had 2 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal for the Gaels.

Grace Hunter made it eight straight games in double figures, scoring 10 points (3/6FG), as Florida International squeezed past Marshall 70-66. The Panthers now 4-7 in Conference USA.

Houston Baptist 52 (Lauryn Mapusua 2 points) Northwestern State 42

Kruz Perrott-Hunt was in double figures by half-time, the Tall Blacks guard finishing with 17 points as South Dakota moved to 7-6 in the Summit League with a comfortable 91-69 win against Omaha. Perrott-Hunt also dished 3 assists and grabbed 4 boards.

Callum McRae compiled 10 points (5/11FG) and 8 rebounds in UC Riverside’s 66-56 loss to UC Irvine. Flynn Cameron had 5 points, 4 rebounds and a pair of assists in the defeat. 

New Mexico State 77 (Yuat Alok 6 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block) Dixie State 69

#22 St Mary’s 86 (Dan Fotu 4 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists) San Diego 56

Next up for St Mary’s is #2 Gonzaga!

Charlisse L-W and Kruz P-H the standouts – latest Div I wrap

The prodigious Charlisse Leger-Walker scored a career high 30 points (9/18FG, 8/10FT) as Washington State secured a 63-56 road win at Colorado. The Cougars leading scorer now has 346 points at 17.3ppg this season.

Krystal L-W produced her usual all-court game in the win – 8 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and a steal for the senior point guard. 

Another former St Peter’s School, Cambridge standout Kendell Heremaia, produced a 15-points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals performance to help propel Fordham to a 59-52 victory against Duquesne. Fordham now 7-2 in the Atlantic-10 and third spot on the ladder.

BYU produced a stunning second half performance to defeat Gonzaga in the top of the West Coast Conference table clash. Down 35-20 at half-time BYU gave up just 3 points in the third quarter and 15 in the half to win 62-50. Tegan Graham added 5 rebounds to 3 points in the victory. Both teams now have an 8-1 record.

Also, in the West Coast Conference Tayla Dalton scored in double figures for the third straight game as St Mary’s got back to .500 with a commanding 96-80 win at Pacific. Dalton finished with 15 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists.

Jade Kirisome was also in good form with 14 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists.

South Dakota’s leading scorer Kruz Perrott-Hunt, averaging 15 points per game, scored exactly that number as the Coyotes went down 89-79 to top of the table South Dakota State. Perrott-Hunt also dished a team high 5 assists and claimed 6 rebounds.

James Moors was one of three Colorado State players in double figures as the Rams won a thriller against San Diego State 58-57. The sophomore forward added 8 rebounds, a block and a steal to 10 points (3/3FG, 4/5FT).

Sam Mennenga was also highly efficient as Davidson remained top of the Atlantic 10 with a 78-73 win against George Washington. Mennenga had 10 points (4/5FG, 3/4FT), 3 rebounds and a block.

Yuat Alok scored 11 points and secured 3 rebounds as New Mexico State defeated Seattle 79-64.

Sam Waardenburg and the University of Miami Hurricanes made a sensational start in the ACC. However they have lost twice this week including a 71-58 defeat at Virginia where Sam had 6 points, 5 rebounds, a block and a couple of assists.

Abilene Christian 83 (Tobias Cameron 2 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal) UTRGV 66

Perrott-Hunt overtakes Tall Blacks legend Stan Hill

Kruz Perrott-Hunt scored in double figures for the 15th time in 18 games for South Dakota as they squeezed past Western Illinois 75-72 for a fifth straight win. The former Rosmini college guard finished with 11 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists. South Dakota are up to third on the Summit League standings with a 5-3 record.

Perrott-Hunt now has 490 career points edging past Tall Blacks great Stan Hill into 17th spot on the all-time list of New Zealand scorers in NCAA Division I men’s basketball. Hill scored 489 points at San Jose State University in two seasons between 1976 and 1978.

James Moors scored 8 points (3/3FG, 2/4FT) as Colorado State beat Nevada 77-66 to improve to 6-1 in the Mountain West Conference. The former Westlake forward added 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a block.

Up to #16 on the national rankings, the highest mark in programme history, BYU cruised past San Diego 70-48. Tegan Graham headed the assists column with 5 dimes to accompany 4 points, 3 steals and 3 rebounds while Kaylee Smilerhad 2 assists, 3 points and a rebound. BYU top the West Coast Conference standings with a 5-0 record.

Graham moved past Josie Stockill’s (Colgate University Raiders, 2012-16) 1,081 career points and is now just 8 points shy of Tessa Boagni’s (California State University, Northridge Matadors 2014-18) 1,089 career total. Graham is currently 12thon the all-time list of New Zealand scorers in NCAA Division I women’s basketball

Amiee Book equaled her season best of 18 points (7/12FG, 4/6 3PG) but it was enough to prevent Fresno State falling Colorado State 78-67. The Nelsonian also came up with a pair of blocks and 3 rebounds.

Other Results:

Saint Peters’ New Jersey 56 (Victoria Ikenasio 3 points, 3 rebounds) Manhattan 66

TCU 54 (Tara Manumaleuga 3 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal) West Virginia 66

Rob Loe becomes 16th Breakers centurion.

Rob Loe made his 100th appearance for the Sky Sport Breakers against Melbourne United on Friday evening. 

The 31 year-old has become the 16th Breakers centurion and the fourth graduate of Westlake Boys High School, after Tom Abercrombie, Kirk Penney and Corey Webster, to play 100 Breakers games.

He debuted for the Breakers in 2016 and is now in his fifth season with the club having had a sabbatical in 2018-19 playing 28 games for Cairns Taipans. He has accumulated 711 points, 390 rebounds and 125 assists in his Breakers career to date.

In 2009, in his final year at Westlake Boys, Loe performed outstandingly at the FIBA U19 World Championships in Auckland. At just 17 years – the youngest member of the team – he led the Junior Tall Blacks in scoring averaging 18.8ppg.

Loe made his Tall Blacks debut the same year and went on to cement his place as the starting centre at both the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain and the 2019 event in China. He averaged 11.0 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in China where he also scored at 52% (12/23) from beyond the arc. He was also a member of the bronze medal winning team at the 2018 Commonwealth Games averaging 9.4ppg and 5.0rpg. He has so far racked up 86 appearances in the black singlet.

The North Harbour representative enjoyed a standout career at St Louis University playing 133 games for the Billikens. Those 133 games, that included 121 starts, are a record number of Men’s NCAA Division I appearances by a Kiwi.

Following college Loe spent a season each at KAO Dramas (Greece) and Limburg United (Belgium)  before linking with the Breakers.

He won a NZNBL championship with the Wellington Saints in 2019 picking up the Stan Hill Award for Most Outstanding New Zealand Forward.

Full list of Breakers Centurions including total games played:

359 Tom Abercrombie 

354 Mika Vukona 

250 Paul Henare

238 Alex Pledger

236 Corey Webster

220 Dillon Boucher

179 CJ Bruton

160 Kirk Penney

147 Finn Delany

130 Cedric Jackson

130 Aaron Olson

125 Oscar Forman

118 Tim Behrendorff

103 Reuben Te Rangi

101 Rob Loe

100 Shea Ili

Terrific Taine – Latest Division I Wrap

Taine Murray almost stole the show as his 14 points (11 in the second half) nearly claimed a comeback victory for Virginia. However, the Cavaliers came up just short against Iowa losing 75-74, the young Tall Black making 5 from 7 from the field including 4 from 6 three-pointers.

Dan Fotu exploded for 14 second half points to lead Saint Mary’s Gaels to a 67-50 victory over UC Riverside. Named West Coast Conference Player of the Week after averaging 16.3 points per game at the Maui Invitational last week Fotu was all business in the second frame making 6 from 9 from the field whilst also picking up 4 rebounds.

Flynn Cameron (11 points) was one of two Riverside players in double figures while Callum McRae posted a steady 6 points and 3 rebounds and 2 assists in 32 minutes.

Brother Tobias Cameron scored 12 points on 5 from 7 from the field as all 13 Abilene players made points in their 88-47 demolition of Schreiner.

Kruz Perrott-Hunt scored in double figures for the fourth consecutive game in South Dakota’s 61-52 loss at San Jose State. KP-H scored 14 points and in the process slid past the 100-points mark for the season at 15.0ppg.

Other Men’s Result:

Davidson 75 (Sam Mennenga 2pts, 2rebs, 4a, 1 steal) Charlotte 58

Southern Idaho College Golden Eagles have soared to #10 on the Women’s Junior College rankings after recording two wins over Thanksgiving weekend – with Ashlee Strawbridge in the thick of the action.

Strawbridge, who has signed a letter of intent to play NCAA Division I at the University of Missouri-Kansas City next year, grabbed 3 steals, 6 rebounds and 13 points (6/10FG) as Southern Idaho produced all the gems to defeat Treasure Valley 93-57. 

BYU Women, with Tegan Graham, Kaylee Smiler and Arielle Mackey-Williams on the roster, have entered the NCAA Division I National rankings at #21 after an unblemished 7-0 start the season.

Virginia’s McKenna Dale had her most productive outing of the season despite the Cavs going down 74-65 to Richmond. The former Junior Tall Fern finished with 6 points, 7 rebounds and 2 steals.

Helen Matthews had season highs in points (11) and assists (5) as Wofford Terriers ran around High Point to win 74-52.

Other Women’s Results:

Saint Mary’s Gaels 79 (Jade Kirisome 7pts, 2rebs, 1a/ Tayla Dalton 4pts/Amy West 3rebs,1a) San Jose State 71

Georgia Southern 89 (Tsubasa Nisbett 3pts, 4 rebs) Charleston 65

Chattanooga 61 (Pareunora Pene 3pts, 1a) Vanderbilt 91

Florida International 33 (Grace Hunter 2pts, 3rebs, 2a) Jacksonville 35

Saint Peter’s New Jersey 62 (Victoria Ikenasio 6pts, 3rebs) Morgan State 66

Fotu and Perrott-Hunt post big numbers again

Dan Fotu and Kruz Perrott-Hunt, fresh off career nights, were again in good form for their respective teams on Wednesday (NZT).

Fotu followed his 22-points haul on Tuesday with a team high 16 points (6/10FG) as St Mary’s knocked off another big fish beating Oregon Ducks 62-50.

The win advances the Gaels to the Maui Invitational Final against Wisconsin tomorrow.

Those points also mean that the former Rangitoto College standout becomes the 12th Kiwi to score 600 career points in Men’s NCAA Division I basketball – Callum McRae was the 11th New Zealander to pass that mark earlier in the week.

Perrott-Hunt is also having a good week. He scored a career best 25 points a couple of days ago and has followed that with 16 points (6/8FG, 3/5 3PG), 5 assists and 2 blocks as South Dakota Coyotes outplayed Presentation University Saints to win 99-58.

Tegan Graham was one of five BYU players in double figures as the Cougars beat Utah State 101-74. The Wellingtonian finished with 14 points, a game high 7 assists and 2 blocks.

Helen Matthews scored 9 points making 2 from 3 three-pointers but Wofford College Terriers went down to UNC Asheville 70-64. The former Canterbury Wildcats guard also came up with 4 rebounds, a couple of assists and a steal.

Fresno State 75 (Amiee Book 3pts & 4rebs) Cal State Northridge 79

Career nights for Perrott-Hunt and Fotu plus major milestone for McRae

Kruz Perrott-Hunt scored a career high 25 points as South Dakota knocked off Tennessee State 83-66. The former Harbour standout earned an incredible 16 free-throws and missed only one attempt while also knocking down a brace of triples as the Coyotes improved to 3-1 this season.

When Callum McRae scored from close range with 6:41 to play in UC Riverside’s encounter with the University of Texas at El Paso he became just the 11th Kiwi to score 600 career points in Men’s NCAA Division I basketball. McRae went on to record a game high 10 rebounds to go with his 4 points as Riverside immproved to 4-2 for the season.

Next in his sights will be Mike Karena who scored 616 points for Wright State between 2014-16.

Dan Fotu extended his career high for the second time this season as St Mary’s Gaels beat Notre Dame 62-59 at the Maui Invitational in Las Vegas. Described on the ESPN commentary as the best player on the court Fotu scored a game high 22 points (8/9FG, 3/3 3PG, 3/4FT) and also had 3 rebounds, a block and a steal.

Sam Mennenga pretty much scored his season average of 11.8 points per game as Davidson secured a 76-67 come from behind victory against East Carolina on the final day of the Myrtle Beach Classic. Mennenga finished with 11 points (5/8FG), 5 rebounds and a couple of assists in 31 minutes.  

Other Men’s results:

Miami University 86 (Sam Waardenburg 3pts, 8rebs, 4a, 1 block) Florida A&M 59

Colorado State 71 (James Moors 4pts, 1reb) Northeastern 61

The sisters L-W were again in good touch as Washington State carved out a 77-59 victory against Idaho. Krystal Leger-Walker dished a game high 6 assists to accompany 2 steals, 5 rebounds and 7 points. Charlisse Leger-Walker was equally effective with 12 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists to go with a steal and a block.

Emme Shearer scored 11 points (4/7FG) for the second successive game as Portland University Pilots (4-1) navigated past Prairie View A&M 80-54 at the Bank of Hawaii Classic. She also snared 4 steals – that’s 15 in the first 5 games with the sophomore guard leading the way for the Pilots in that statistical category.

Kendell Heremaia made all six of her free-throws on the way to 8 points and 5 assists as Fordham University scored a notable 71-68 win against Michigan State.

Other Women’s results:

Virginia 57 (McKenna Dale 1reb, 1a, 1steal) UCLA 69

St Peter’s, New Jersey 52 (Victoria Ikenasio 3pts, 1reb) Howard 62

More Bits and Pieces

Isaac Fotu, with a commanding 21 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks, helped Tochigi Brex beat Chiba Jets 100-75 to improve to 5-4 in the Japanese League East Division.

Also in Japan the Paul Henare and Zico Coronel coached Susanoo Magic are 6-3 in the West Division.

Taki Fahrensohn is averaging 11 points per game but his club Ehingen Urspring  are 0-6 in the German Second Division.

Also in Germany Matt Freeman is averaging 10.8ppg for Karlsruhe Lions (3-3) in the same division.

In the Romanian League Max Darling (averaging 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game) has helped propel his club Neptun Constanta into the top six on the ladder with a 4-4 record.

Ashley Taia, who made her Tall Ferns debut at the Asia Cup in Jordan last month, came up with 9 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals but couldn’t prevent Wetterbygden falling 75-66 to Norrkoping in the Swedish League. Wetterbygden have lost three games on the bounce to slip to 2-4 on the season.

Gracie Roberts-Hare scored 6 points (2/2 3PG) as Lekdetec crushed Binnenland 76-45 to improve to 2-2 in the Dutch League.

Callum McRae and Flynn Cameron were both in double figures as University of California Riverside eased to a comfortable 90-56 win against Cal State LA in a pre-season game.

Cameron scored 10 points while McRae, having missed all of last season due to injury, posted 11 points and 4 rebounds.

At Davidson University Sam Mennenga scored a game high 13 points to lead the black team to victory over white in another pre-season scrimmage.

James Moors, like Mennenga a former Westlake and Harbour standout, made a nice start to the season recording 17 points on 7 from 8 shooting as Colorado State thumped Adams State 92-55.

Corey Le’aupepe and Menlo University made a fine start to the season. Menlo beat Warner Pacific 87-78 with the Wellington forward scoring 19 points making 7 from 9 from the field.

Maxim Stephens continued his good early season form with 17 points despite Rocky Mountain Battlin Bears going down 63-60 to College of Idaho. 

Tegan Graham (9 points) knocked down 3 from 4 three-pointers as the powerful Blue team beat White 77-40 in BYU’s scrimmage game. Graham led BYU scoring from beyond the arc last season making 46% (38/83) of her shots from deep.

For the white team Kaylee Smiler scored just a single point whilst Arielle Mackey-Williams contributed 2 points and 3 rebounds.

American Amanda Wayment has signed to play for Goldfields Giants in NBL1 West in 2022. The former BYU forward has been a standout for Auckland Dream in the last two NBL seasons.