Reuben Te Rangi caps an incredible rise to top
Reuben Te Rangi's impressive past 12 months or so has just got even better with the teenager's inclusion in Tall Blacks trial squad.
The youngster has made his mark on the New Zealand basketball scene in the past year. He was named the 2012 National Basketball League rookie of the year when he was playing for the Harbour Heat.
Te Rangi then got a taste of playing in the Australian Basketball League as part of the champion New Zealand Breakers team.
He was with the Breakers squad for the 2012-13 season on a development contract but that has now been upgraded to a fulltime contract for the 2013-14 season.
He has been again another key performer in the 2013 National Basketball League season helping the Southland Sharks to a semifinal showdown against the Wellington Saints in Napier on Saturday night.
Te Rangi looks set to be a key figure as far as the future of New Zealand basketball goes, highlighted by his selection in the Tall Blacks trial squad.
The 19 triallists named will gather in Auckland next week to prepare for the Oceania series against Australia on August 14 in Auckland and August 18 in Canberra.
Te Rangi said he had received an email a couple of weeks ago confirming his spot in the trials and was now looking forward to trying to put his best foot forward and get some playing minutes with the Tall Blacks.
The youngster agreed it had been a pretty whirlwind rise up the ranks but he's keen to keep it continuing.
"Hopefully, I can top it all off with an NBL Championship this year [with Southland]. It has been a good year signing with the Breakers and everything so hopefully there is more to come," he said yesterday.
If Te Rangi can get some court time with the Tall Blacks he will be second player to represent New Zealand while being signed to the Southland Sharks.
Mark Dickel was the first.
It is likely Leon Henry would have been picked also in the trial squad if he had been available.
Joining Te Rangi as other newcomers to the Tall Blacks setup are Brad Anderson, Brooke Ruscoe, Dion Prewster and Marco Alexander, and forwards Jordan Ngatai, Jack Salt and Thomas Vodanovich.
Meanwhile Basketball New Zealand has not given up hope that new Oklahoma City Thunder draft pick Steven Adams could play for the Tall Blacks this season.
"We understand this is a very exciting and challenging time for Steven in his career," BBNZ chief executive Iain Potter said.
"But he has expressed his desire to play for the Tall Blacks at some point and I'm sure if he possibly can we'll see him in action soon."
Among those not attending the trials are leading lights Kirk Penney, Thomas Abercrombie and Adams, while United States collegians Rob Loe, Isaac Fotu and Tai Webster are also absent.
TALL BLACKS TRIAL SQUAD: Brad Anderson (Taranaki Mountain Airs), BJ Anthony (Otago Nuggets), Everard Bartlett (Bay Hawks), Josh Bloxham (Nelson Giants), Casey Frank (Wellington Saints), Nick Horvath (Manawatu Jets), Jarrod Kenny (Bay Hawks), Jordan Ngatai (BYU Hawaii), Alex Pledger (New Zealand Breakers), Dion Prewster (Bay Hawks), Brook Ruscoe (Nelson Giants), Jack Salt (Super City Rangers), Lindsay Tait (Wellington Saints), Reuben Te Rangi (Southland Sharks), Jeremiah Trueman (Manawatu Jets), Thomas Vodanovich (James Madison University), Mika Vukona (Nelson Giants), Corey Webster (Wellington Saints), Marco Alexander (Waikato Pistons).
The Southland Times