Horvath back in squad to tour Asia, Europe

GEORGE HEAGNEY
Last updated 12:00 21/07/2014

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Manawatu Jets big man Nick Horvath was a step closer to going to the Basketball World Cup in Spain next month after being named in the Tall Blacks squad of 14 to tour Asia and Europe.

New Zealand finished their three-match series against South Korea on Saturday, winning 2-1, and the roster was cut from 17 to 14.

They play two away games against South Korea, a tournament in China, then head to Europe for games against Lithuania and Serbia before arriving in Spain.

With Horvath and fellow naturalised American Casey Frank in the squad of 14, only one will be able to make the final cut of 12.

"It's the same story," Horvath said. "It's good for competition but I'm really looking forward to going overseas."

Horvath's case is helped by the toe injury to seven-footer Alex Pledger, who is out for four to six weeks.

Horvath impressed in the opening win against Korea, his first game for New Zealand since 2008, but sat out the last two after he tweaked his back, which is coming right, but he said he had to be careful.

"It was fun to do it back in black."

The Tall Blacks have a camp in Auckland starting on Wednesday, before heading to Asia.

Of the 17 from the Korean Series, youngsters Jack Salt, Tohi Smith-Milner and Josh Bloxham missed out and Pledger was injured.

Coach Nenad Vucinic decided to take Horvath and Frank to give them more time to see how the combinations go before making a choice as to who will be in the final squad.

"It is a crucial decision as both of them are also carrying niggling injuries," Vucinic said. "But at this time we have looked at what is best for the team and that means experience. It is not a time for developing players, so for now they will both travel and we will make a decision closer to Spain."

Those that miss out may stay in Spain in case of an injury.

Players with previous World Cup experience are Kirk Penney (2002, 06, 10), Mika Vukona (2006, 10), Tom Abercrombie (2010), BJ Anthony (2010), Lindsay Tait (2010) and Casey Frank (2010). Tai Wynyard, 16, who became the youngest Tall Black when he debuted against Korea, is in the squad.

Tall Blacks squad: Tom Abercrombie (New Zealand Breakers), Benny Anthony (Wellington Saints), Everard Bartlett (Bay Hawks), Isaac Fotu (University of Hawaii), Casey Frank (Waikato Pistons), Nick Horvath (Manawatu Jets), Jarrod Kenny (Bay Hawks), Robert Loe (University of St Louis (USA), Kirk Penney (Trabzonspor, Turkey), Lindsay Tait (Wellington Saints), Mika Vukona (Nelson Giants/Breakers), Corey Webster (Wellington Saints/Breakers), Tai Webster (University of Nebraska, USA), Tai Wynyard (Super City Rangers).

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- Manawatu Standard

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