The NZ Tall Ferns have been selected for the upcoming tour of China. The squad of 14 will be trimmed to 12 for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament before the Spanish leg of the tour.
Stealing a bit of rest time between training, these Tall Ferns have a long month ahead.
Tall Ferns coach Kennedy Kereama says, “A lot of these girls have been putting in the hard yards and you know, obviously bringing them into our environment and bringing them in and putting a Tall Ferns singlet on, they seem to achieve pretty great things every time.”
With 14 players selected just this week, four from NZ, four in the American Collegiate system and six playing professional basketball overseas, the team's coach Kennedy Kereama is full of confidence as they head into the China and Europe tour.
Te Whakatōhea player Chevannah Paalvast says, “Everyone's just excited and we're all bonding and getting to know each other, there're a few new players and so yeah it's good.”
Kereama says, “No matter who we bring in they seem to gel really well and I guess it's one of the strong points of our group and I guess it's just the culture here in NZ that our girls get on really well.”
NZ currently sits at No.22 on the FIBA Women's World Standings. However, that doesn't faze coach Kereama, as NZ goes face-to-face against the world's toughest teams.
“To go away and play the French, Cuba, China, Montenegro, Czech Republic, Spain, it's a great competition for us so any chance we can get to go play better competition is an advantage for us, so it's only going to help us with our process”, says Kereama.
“We're usually the underdog and we're used to going in as the underdog but we like that challenge. It's fun and it's good for us”, says Paalvast.
However, the biggest challenge ahead for the Tall Ferns will be the Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament where 12 countries will battle it out elbow-to-elbow for a top five spot in a final shot at Rio.
Kereama says, “I guess for us it’s a matter of performing at the pointy end of the tour which is towards Olympics Qualification series so the first part of the tour is probably going to be a lot of experimentation and working with rotations and getting chemistry right so we should be pretty good once we get to the back end of the tour.”