Inexperienced NZ Select basketball team selected for China
A relatively inexperienced New Zealand Select team has been named ahead of their invitational tournament in China next month.
Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare has named a youthful side with little experience at international level, but this is something that excited the former international player.
The average age of the team is under 23 with the omission of any regular Tall Blacks in the side.
"One of the things I like about this group is the relative inexperience in international basketball for most of these guys. That's not usually something to get excited about but I like the fact that these guys will be tested and taken out of their comfort zones.
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There are some familiar faces in Nelson Giant's and Breaker's Finn Delany, Wellington Saint's Jordan Ngatai, Southern Shark's Derone Raukaw, Bay Hawk's Tony Tolovae, Christchurch's and now US contracted Yanni Wetzell and Canterbury Ram's Ethan Rusbatch - all of whom played for the New Zealand Select team in 2016.
"Seeing how they react to that is what excites me because then you'll see who can operate under pressure at this level. The guys that have played in the NBL have all had very good seasons."
"That's just part of the reason for their selection though, they all earned positive endorsements from their coaches as to their character and commitment to the game on and off court, which is important when we have such high standards within our environment."
Henare believes that with New Zealand about to embark on a new era of basketball playing in the Asian Federation the China tournament will help develop the players ahead of what will be a demanding international schedule of World Cup qualifiers for the Tall Blacks.
Henare said the reason the team exists is to provide good back up to the Tall Blacks if needed by giving the players international exposure.
"We're looking for guys that can step into the Tall Blacks if called upon – that is the guts of why this team exists and why Basketball New Zealand has invested in the concept. It's a short window where some of the Tall Blacks coaching and management team can get to know these guys a bit better, which helps if or when their name is called for higher honours."
Henare has high expectations of the group and their ability to take lessons on board in a short space of time.
"The youth we have will create some really good energy too. Guys like Jo Cook-Green, Sam Timmins and Yanni Wetzell have all been plying their trade in the US for their respective teams and will no doubt be looking to impress in this short timeframe. But I know every player, coach and member of the support staff will be champing at the bit to make the most of this experience."
Henare will oversee the tour, but plans on taking a back seat to assistant coaches Mike Fitchett and Lindsay Tait, as they too are given the chance to learn the ropes on the international stage.
The team will assemble in Auckland to depart for China on June 20 for a twelve-day tour, tournament details are yet to be confirmed by the Chinese hosts.
AT A GLANCE
New Zealand Select Team
Luke Aston Southland Sharks,
Alonzo Burton, Taranaki MountainAirs
Joe Cook-Green, Northwest Florida State College
Finn Delany, Nelson Giants
James Hunter, Southland Sharks
Dyson King-Hawea, Nunawading Spectres
Jordan Ngatai, Wellington Saints
Derone Raukawa, Southland Sharks
Ethan Rusbatch, Canterbury Rams
Sam Timmins, University of Washington
Tony Tolovae, Hawks Bay Hawks
Yanni Wetzell, Vanderbilt University