Inexperienced Tall Ferns squad heads to China
Tall Ferns captain Toni Edmondson wonders what the national team could do with funding and the availability of their best players.
New Zealand's women's basketball side departs for its four-nation tournament in China today - missing 15 top names because of injury, work and club or university commitments.
It is possibly New Zealand's most inexperienced squad with eight of the 12 players uncapped at international level.
At the age of 27, Canterbury's Edmondson is the veteran with more than 50 caps behind her, since debuting in 2007.
Edmondson said there were some outstanding Kiwi women's basketballers scattered around the world.
With no high performance funding and a limited international programme, they rarely had the chance to play together.
Getting them together in one place at the same time was also an issue.
"It's a difficult proposition when you don't have any money on the table for these things," she said. "We've probably got the talent to qualify for the Olympics, but obviously the funding really restricts which players we can get back."
Edmondson is based in Perth, where she works fulltime as an accountant and plays in the Australian national league for the West Coast Waves.
Like many Tall Ferns, she has had to make sacrifices to wear the black singlet.
Edmondson has taken time off work to play in the tournament. When she returns to Australia, it will be straight back to the office, the following day.
She isn't complaining and would not have it any other way.
"It's worth it, definitely. Every time I do it, I appreciate it and enjoy representing my country.
"I always love to get back home and see the family and hear a few Kiwi accents."
The 1.81m shooting guard will be critical to New Zealand's fortunes during their six-game tour of China. They take on a WNBA American selection side, as well as matching up against Slovenia and the host nation, who will boast plenty of size in the frontcourt.
The New Zealand players will know they can push their selection claims for future series if they impress in China.
With such a raw squad, it will be an arduous trip. Edmondson said they were ready for the challenge.
She was a member of the New Zealand side, which beat China 83-82 in Yulin, three years ago. It was the first time, the Tall Ferns had beaten China away from home and a moment Edmondson cherishes fondly.
She knows exactly what to expect over the next week. Fairfax NZ