League MVP Horvath 'shut out' of Tall Blacks

Last updated 12:00 28/06/2012
Nick Horvath
Fairfax NZ
IGNORED: "All I did was go to teachers' college. I don't think that was reason not to be given a trial."

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Nick Horvath won't be put off by being snubbed by Tall Black coach Nenad Vucinic for the second year in a row.

The big Manawatu Jets centre was the National Basketball League's most valuable player this year but still couldn't make the trial squad, let alone the Tall Blacks team for their Olympics qualifying tournament in Venezuela next week.

It is the second year Horvath has been passed over by the Tall Blacks, even though he was one of the best players in the league, leaving him puzzled.

"They have their reasons," Horvath said. "I was pretty disappointed to not be given a trial after being the MVP. I couldn't believe it."

Horvath said he was basically shut out.

"The trial team was named and I emailed Nenad and he was pretty honest with me and said I didn't need a trial.

"Obviously, I'm sure he has his reasons, but I'm not sure. My whole goal this year was to improve enough to get a trial ... all I can do from it is hope to improve again."

Last year, Horvath led the NBL in rebounding, with 11.7 boards per game and also averaged 17 points per outing.

This season, he was the leading rebounder again, as he pulled down 15.8 per game and averaged 19.5 points per game.

Horvath was also named the league's most valuable New Zealand player, the most outstanding forward or centre, the most outstanding New Zealand forward and was named in the All Star Five.

Tall Black veteran Casey Frank, who got the spot as the one naturalised American for the qualifying tournament, only averaged 8.7 rebounds and 15.7 points a game.

Missing out last year was what motivated Horvath this season, so after a stellar season he said he must have to win a championship with the Jets to get noticed.

In 2010, Horvath made himself unavailable for selection while he was studying at the College of Education in Palmerston North which may have counted against him.

"It must have, I don't know for sure," he said.

"There are guys that have failed drug tests that have been given trials again and guys have been unavailable before that have been given trials. I don't see why. All I did was go to teachers' college. I don't think that was reason not to be given a trial."

Horvath, who was part of the Tall Blacks' 2008 Beijing Olympic campaign, didn't think there was a grudge between him and anyone in the national set-up and would love a call-up if there was an opportunity.

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"I want to be part of the team and don't want to step on any toes.

"I've got to make sure I'm available and ready for training."

Frank got the naturalised Kiwi spot ahead of Jets' American swingman Marcel Jones, who rushed through his citizenship just in time to make the trials, only to miss out on the final squad.

- Manawatu Standard

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