Canterbury Rams out to snare Tall Blacks' star

BRENDON EGAN
Last updated 05:00 31/12/2013

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Canterbury Rams coach Dave Harrison remains confident he can land a marquee Tall Black signing to bolster his side in their return to the national league next year.

The Rams' organisation have been busy over the past few weeks talking to several New Zealand internationals competing in the Australian National Basketball League (ANBL).

Harrison said they were keen to snap up a talented Tall Black player to help provide experience, scoring prowess and leadership.

Names on the Rams' shopping list include New Zealand Breakers' Alex Pledger and Tom Abercrombie, as well as Tall Blacks' representatives BJ Anthony and Casey Frank.

"You can name any of the Tall Blacks in the Aussie league. They're all players we've spoken with," Harrison said.

"We haven't left any stone unturned. Hopefully we'll know something in the next couple of weeks."

The Rams have three players already confirmed for their 2014 campaign, including point guards Jeremy Kench and Marty Davison and swingman Ethan Rusbatch, who are all Christchurch based.

Abercrombie and Pledger sat out this year's New Zealand domestic league, but with the Tall Blacks competing in the world championships in late August, Harrison expected the national squad members to all be available.

Harrison said they had compiled a list of prospective American import options, including some players, who had previously played in the Kiwi league and in Europe.

They would hold off signing their two American players until they knew what was happening around their possible Tall Black addition.

Harrison believed Southland Sharks' American forward Brian Conklin had illustrated what opportunities existed if someone played well in the New Zealand competition. Conklin enjoyed a wonderful campaign for the title-winning Sharks and went on to gain a contract in the Australian league with the Townsville Crocodiles.

"You can come out here and make a name for yourself in this league and the Aussie league comes calling.

All of a sudden you've got a 12 month professional contract and a decent lifestyle in a great part of the world," Harrison said.

The Rams have announced a training squad of 22 players, who will work out three times per week in January in the lead-up to the new season, which begins against the Wellington Saints at Cowles Stadium on April 6.

Harrison said they would select a 15-man squad for the NBL season in February, which provided a massive incentive for the players in the training squad to push their claims.

A Christchurch-based side has not featured in the NBL for the past three years and pleasing early season ticket sales had indicated there was strong interest in the Rams' return.

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Harrison acknowledged it would be difficult for the side in their first year back, but was bullish about their chances if they could mesh together.

"We've gone about our recruiting with the mindset that we want to put together a team, who can contend.

"We're hoping to put together a team, who can compete, but we've got a long-term focus to develop our local talent and have a sustainable team."

- The Press

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