Tom Abercrombie jets to USA for tilt at NBA
New Zealand Breakers and Tall Blacks basketball star Tom Abercrombie is off to the United States for a "now-or-never" crack at an NBA contract.
Abercombie flies out of Auckland tomorrow for mini-camp opportunities with NBA franchises the San Antonio Spurs, Milwaukee Bucks, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks. The Spurs currently lead the NBA finals 1-0 and feature former Tall Blacks captain Sean Marks as a key executive.
Crucially, Abercrombie has also been invited to play for the Phoenix Suns in the NBA's summer league in Las Vegas - the premier showcase for fresh talent in the big league's off-season.
"It's an unbelievable opportunity and exactly what I wanted - to go over and see where I'm at and how I stack up against guys over there," Abercrombie said "It's a chance to get my face out there and see what happens. I'm going with a pretty open mind and just going to do what I do."
Abercrombie, 26 next month, only has a short window to secure an NBA opportunity and this is a tilt that has been delayed a year by the inopportune ankle injury suffered in the 2011-12 Australian NBL playoffs.
"I'm at that age where it's a now-or-never sort of thing," he said. "You don't get these opportunities often and first impressions make a massive difference over there. I'm pretty confident I'm in a good place now to go give it a go, and I'm comfortable with whatever happens."
Abercrombie's trip has the blessing of the Breakers and he will return to the triple ANBL champions if things don't work out over the next two months.
He won't garner the sort of attention that fellow Kiwi Steven Adams has been getting ahead of the upcoming NBA draft but Abercrombie hopes to still make an impact at the right time.
He's been told the mini-camps involve two-a-day sessions where hopefuls are put through drills and game situations to assess their ability.
But it's the summer league where the opportunities really lie.
Rosters are a mix of young hopefuls looking to break through and veteran players after one last stint.
It's likely Abercrombie will cross paths at some stage with Breakers team-mate Cedric Jackson who's going down a similar pathway.
"I'm looking at this as an opportunity to go over and see how I stack up, and put my name out there," he said.
"Actually getting on an NBA team, man, that's probably another 10 steps down the track.
"But this is step one in the right direction and you've got to start somewhere."
- Sunday Star Times
What did you make of the Tall Blacks' World Cup campaign?