Category Archives: Tall Ferns

Tall Ferns squad has nice blend of youth and experience – Charlisse Leger-Walker to debut


Guy Molloy with Tall ferns - credit FIBA-2

The Tall Ferns squad for the upcoming Commonwealth Games has a nice blend of youth and experience. The team features most of the players that attended the Asia Cup in India last year although Jillian Harmon  (playing for Napoli in the Italian League) is a notable absentee.

Terrific to see teenagers Charlisse Leger-Walker and Zara Jillings included.

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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).

Tall Ferns squad announced


Guy Molloy with Tall ferns - credit FIBA-2

Newly appointed Tall Ferns coach Guy Molloy has named a predictable squad ahead of a Commonwealth Games selection camp being held in Melbourne.

That camp is being held this weekend with only Italy based Jillian Harmon a notable absentee. Harmon’s commitments to her club side Napoli rule her out of contention, however the power forward has committed to the New Zealand programme beyond the Commonwealth Games when the Tall Ferns will look to qualify for the next Olympics.

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Tall Ferns head coach announced


The Tall Ferns will have one of Australia’s leading coaches at the helm as they prepare for the Commonwealth Games, with the appointment of Guy Molloy as the National Team Head Coach.

Molloy worked with the New Zealand women’s basketball team last year as a mentor to the team and its coaching staff.

Basketball New Zealand’s High Performance Manager, Leonard King, says Molloy was the outstanding candidate after a process undertaken over the past three months.

“Guy’s experience and record shone through. He’s a coach with proven results that the players know and respect. We are thrilled Guy has accepted the National Team Head Coach position and and look forward to working with him as we build our women’s programme into a world class operation,” said King.

Speaking from Melbourne, Molloy said he was looking forward to the challenge, with the Commonwealth Games less than two months away.

“It is a great honour to be named the Head Coach of the Tall Ferns. Last year, I saw first-hand how dedicated and hard-working the Tall Ferns players and staff were. They competed fiercely every day, whether it was a training session or a FIBA match. In my stewardship as coach, I hope to do several things: get to know the basketball community of New Zealand, tap into the culture of New Zealand basketball and drive their ethos of team-first basketball, and then use myexperience to increase the skills and standards of the playing list. The mission is to develop the New Zealand team into one of the top teams in the FIBA Asia qualification zone.

“I would like to thank the key people involved at both Basketball New Zealand and the Deakin Melbourne Boomers for their collaboration in making this appointment happen.”

Molloy is currently the Head Coach for the Melbourne Boomers in the Australian WNBL, a team that he coached through to the Grand Final Series this year. He is a six-time WNBL finalist, two-time coach of the year, and previously led the Perth Breakers (now called the Perth Lynx) to the Grand Final in 1993. At a national level Molloy was Assistant Coach with the Australian Opals between 1990 and 1994.

In men’s basketball, Guy coached the fledgling Cairns Taipans in the Australian NBL from 2000 to 2005 where he led the club to their maiden finals appearance in 2004. He was assistant coach on four NBL grand final teams from 1997-2000, and a South Dragons ANBL championship team in 2008-2009.

Molloy led the Australian Under 17 men’s team to a silver medal at the junior FIBA World Cup in 2012, and the Australian Under 21 men’s team to the FIBA World Cup semi-finals in 2004. Molloy was also a three-time Under 18 national championship coach with Victoria.

The Tall Ferns will step into their first training camp of the year on 16 to 18 February in Melbourne.

Molloy is married to Renee, has two daughters Raine and Siena, and resides in Victoria.

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.



Blair and Bengals clawed by Clarke and Leger-Walker


Idaho State Bengals guard Brooke Blair was held scoreless for the first time this season in the latest version of Kiwi versus Kiwi.

It was in fact Kiwis versus Kiwi as Krystal Leger-Walker and Tiarna Clarke helped Northern Colorado Bears to a convincing 75-52 win over the Bengals.

Blair picked up a foul in the first 30 seconds of the game and it set the tone for a disappointing performance from the 2016 Tall Fern who struggled with foul trouble throughout. Averaging ten attempts from the field per game Blair was restricted to just two shots, with Idaho State’s leading scorer unable to convert either, and finished the game with 4 rebounds and a pair of assist as the Bengals slip to 6-5 and seventh spot on the Big Sky Conference ladder.

In contrast Northern Colorado, riding on the back of a four game winning streak, are now 9-3 in Big Sky Conference play and have moved to the top of the standings.

Leger-Walker put in another solid performance for the Bears. The Tall Ferns guard came up with 6 points (2/4 3PG), 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. She nailed her first triple late in the second period as Northern Colorado, on the back of a dominating 36-12 second quarter, led 47-25 at half-time. Another trey in the third kept Idaho at bay – the lead 60-34 with a quarter to play.

Former Westlake guard Tiarna Clarke, a regular contributor off the bench for the Bears, failed to score with either of her two shots but did contribute 3 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. Adding salt to the wound the steal was from Blair – sort of summed up her day.

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!

Kiwis key contributors in Europe

Fotu .jpg

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.

Micaela Cocks wins third WNBL Championship



Tall Ferns guard Micaela Cocks has added a third Australian WNBL title to her already impressive CV.

She had won championships with Townsville in 2015 and 2016, collecting the Grand-Final MVP Award that year, and finished runner-up in 2013 and 2014.

Cocks enjoyed a standout four year career at the University of Oregon and has represented the Tall Ferns for over a decade winning a Commonwealth Games silver medal in 2006 and being a member of the NZ team at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

“It may be the third but it never gets old,” said Cocks.

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