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Tall Ferns 12 named before tomorrow's Olympic qualifiers tip off

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Sky Sport Tall Ferns Head Coach Guy Molloy has shortened his squad to twelve players tonight, ahead of the Olympic Qualifying Series beginning tomorrow in Henderson, Auckland.

Harbour Breeze guard Matangiroa Flavell and St Mary’s College (California) forward Amy West are the two young talents omitted from the squad of 14 that has been training in Auckland since Monday.

Molloy says his team is well aware they must finish in the top two to advance to the next round and have planned for their priority games.

"China is not the team with a big target on it, even though we want to play as well as we possibly can against them. We know we have to win two games, so the other two against Korea and the Philippines are the target ones we want to get. We think we’ve picked a team that will help us win those two games. If we had to beat China to go through to the next round we might have picked a slightly different team."

Molloy was insistent that Flavell and West were integral members of the squad.

"When I started with the Tall Ferns the depth chart was shallow, so we have been adding a lot of good young players into the squad and having them exposed to the culture and style of play that we want for the Ferns. This has been a critical strategy for the past two years."

Despite only having the players together for three full days ahead of the game against the Philippines, Molloy is pleased with the progress his team is making

"The last few days have been really productive. We have to do a lot of things, a lot of the right things, in a very compressed amount of time. The team have worked hard and, with the time we have together as a national team, everyone is very clear about our priorities. You try to do some things really well and then you have to understand there are some other things you just can’t touch on, so you don’t worry about them. So we pick a few things offensively and defensively that we want to be good at, and then get to work."

The Tall Ferns lost by ten points to China in a training game played behind closed doors on Tuesday night, a performance Molloy was reasonably satisfied with.

"Playing the number seven ranked team in the world, and playing them pretty tough, showed us lots of things we can work at and do. Generally our defence was pretty good. Our zone defence is a work in progress - when we went to a zone they heavily penalised us. Other than that, we just turned the ball over a little too much. However there were some phases of really good basketball and that was pleasing."

Molloy conceded that playing at home in front of home support can create its own pressures and expectations, but he is in no doubt the advantages far outweigh the negatives.

"It can go either way, and I’ve spoken to the players and given them a few examples from my time with Australian teams when we played on home soil. Hopefully we are forewarned. But I prefer home-games for a number of reasons - normally we are dealing with the rigours like jet lag, travel and different diets, so not having that to worry about those things are really big for us.

"Also, I think this tournament is a bit of a legacy piece. I know there is momentum in New Zealand basketball and this is a great time for it. Hopefully the Tall Ferns are really well supported and we get a bunch of junior females who come out to watch and go ‘You know what, I want to be one of those players’. We want to create a few dreams by showing how hard the Tall Ferns compete, how well they play on a world stage, and we just want to create some momentum for the entire women’s programme in New Zealand," said Molloy.

SKY SPORT TALL FERNS TEAM VS PHILLIPINES, CHINA AND SOUTH KOREA

Stella Beck (Melbourne Boomers)

Brooke Blair (Rockhampton Cyclones)

Tessa Boagni (Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats)

Micaela Cocks (Townsville Fire)

Penina Davidson (Melbourne Boomers/Harbour Breeze)

Toni Farnworth (Melbourne Boomers)

Ella Fotu (Harbour Breeze)

Ashleigh Karaitiana (Southern District Spartans, Australia)

Charlisse Leger-Walker (Waikato Wizards/St Peter’s School, Cambridge)

Chevannah Paalvast (Sunshine Coast Rip, Australia)

Kalani Purcell (Melbourne Boomers/Auckland Dream)

Natalie Taylor (Auckland Dream/Southern District Spartans, Australia)

Head Coach - Guy Molloy

Assistant Coach - Aik Ho

Assistant Coach - Jody Cameron

Manager - Lisa Wallbutton

Physio - Lidia Belles

More information - Women’s Olympic Qualifying Series in Auckland

Schedule: Day Tickets start from only $8.50 (two games per day):

Thurs 14 Nov, 5pm. KOREA V CHINA

Thurs 14 Nov, 7:30pm. NEW ZEALAND V PHILIPPINES

Sat 16 Nov, 3pm. PHILIPPINES V KOREA

Sat 16 Nov, 5:30pm. CHINA V NEW ZEALAND

Sun 17 Nov, 3pm. PHILIPPINES V CHINA

Sun 17 Nov, 5:30pm. KOREA V NEW ZEALAND

Venue: The Trusts Arena, Auckland

Tickets: on at Ticketek.co.nz

Follow: @TallFerns on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Hashtags: #TallFerns #GirlsGotGame

Watch: Live broadcast on Sky Sport

Website: www.TallFerns.basketball

Event website: http://www.fiba.basketball/pre-oqtwomen/asia/2019/

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