Topic: Basketball

Asia conference gives Tall Blacks more top games

By Eru Paranihi

The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) has announced changes to world basketball competitions which offers huge opportunities for NZ's national teams.

The changes mean that NZ now moves into the Asian competition. Under the current system, NZ basically only competes against Australia in World Cup qualifying matches. However, under this new system, they'll get the opportunity to play three international sides. The World Cup will be hosted in China and they are set to take on Korea in the first match at home.

Paul Henare is happy to have powerhouses China in the same pool, along with Korea and Hong Kong. 

Paul Henare (Ngāpuhi) says, "It's a challenge when the draw was done. My initial thoughts are it's a tough draw and that is what you want is to be tested 

It's a tremendous opportunity not only for fan but also the national federation

With more home games, the chances of Steven Adams turning out for the Tall Blacks have increased. 

FIBA Spokesperson Patrick Koler says, "We believe this is a strong incentive for those players to join. Steven Adams hasn't played for the Tall Blacks."

Henare says, "The windows that they clash with the NBA he won't be available due to his commitments in the NBA. It's a conversation I will have to have with him."

With Australia also moving to Asia, New Zealand will be relying on the luck of the draw to face the Boomers again. 

Henare says, "There's enough basketball to keep us interested to not bother the Aussies. But if it happens it'll be a great occasion as it always is."

Henare is already looking foward to the first game against Korea, with the New Zealand venue still to be confirmed.   

"Our focus as a national team is the Asia Cup and the preparations towards that and that's been mapped out for some time," says Henare.

First up for the Tall Blacks is the Asia Cup in Lebanon in August where they are in pursuit to be the best team in Asia.