Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare believes the current squad is ready for the Asia Cup in Lebanon, despite minimal time to prepare. Henare will take five debutants, and has named Reuben Te Rangi to captain for this first time.
It was a rusty performance against China, but the Tall Blacks managed to salvage a respectable score line with an 80 - 70 loss.
Coach Henare says, “We just played a Chinese national team with probably four to six weeks preparation, plus touring games and match fitness come up against my boys who have been together for three and a half days.”
Tall Blacks Captain Te Rangi says, “I thought the boys did well. [We] came out and played with energy. I think we can play with that a little bit more."
An area of concern for Henare is the team’s effort to combat the Chinese defence. Unfortunately, the team made a lot of errors which will need to be rectified.
Henare says, “Twenty-one turnovers and 15 of them were live-ball turnovers. They had 15 steals, so it puts a lot of pressure on your defence.”
Henare has named Reuben Te Rangi to lead them in Lebanon. The decision also had the backing from management.
Te Rangi (Ngāti Whātua) says, “Over this next tour, it's gonna be awesome to learn a few things about being a captain, and being a front rower, and being the leader. It's kinda an honour to captain the Tall Blacks side.”
With the clock ticking down before their first Asia Cup game on August 5th, the Tall Blacks need to make the most of their time to prepare.
Henare says it's all about being mentally prepared, “A team like China and other teams that we'll come up against, they get after you for 40-minutes, and it's relentless. You've got to be able to deal with that."
Te Rangi says, “Hopefully we're hitting our straps when we get to that Asia Cup and probably prove a few people wrong.”
First, up for New Zealand is Kazakhstan. The formula is simple - make their shots, and defend well.