Tall Blacks head coach Paul Henare has named his choices for a balanced and experienced New Zealand roster for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019.
The most recognizable names on the list are those of Tom Abercrombie, Jarrod Kenny, Alex Pledger, Rob Loe, Isaac Fotu and the Webster brothers, mainly because all have played in at least one World Cup in the past.
Abercrombie is the most seasoned player on the list, having seen action in the 2010 and 2014 editions of the World Cup, and his experience and leadership will count for a lot in the coming weeks as the Tall Blacks go hard into their preparations. Other talents like Finn Delany, Shea Ili, Jordan Ngatai, Tohi Smith-Milner and Ethan Rusbatch are seen as the core group of the national team's next generation, and their performance at this year's World Cup will be the foundation of New Zealand's basketball future.
In making his final choices, coach Henare noted the need to have players who possess complementary skills and who have shown the proper mindset to maximize their chances of success at the biggest stage of international basketball.He is happy about the balance and depth that can be found in the squad, and he remains upbeat about ramping up the intensity as they continue their build-up to the World Cup.
Coach Henare and the Tall Blacks recently concluded a trip to Japan for a nine-day training camp that included a pair of tune-up matches against the Akatsuki Five. The Tall Blacks also played a pair of friendly games against the Canadian national team and will head off to China soon.
New Zealand will play the First Round of the Group Phase in Nanjing alongside Group F rivals Greece, Brazil and Montenegro.