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Cameron names 10 debutants for Tall Blacks against Australia

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Pero Cameron has named ten debutants in the Tall Blacks team to take on Australia this Saturday in Cairns.

Due to a combination of rearranging the fixture, quarantine restrictions and the lack of MIQ beds for New Zealand based players, and the uncertainty around the Australian NBL’s ever changing schedule, Cameron was forced to narrow his selection to eligible players based in Australia.

Cameron agreed that this will be an unexpected roster for fans, but he says he is very pleased with the group that will be flying into camp today.

"It’s a proud moment and a great opportunity for all of us, but also a commitment to propel the Tall Blacks towards our bigger goals of the Asia Cup and the World Cup. That cycle stops if we don’t play the Qualifiers and each of these players understand that. It’s also clear to me that they know what an honour it is to represent New Zealand. Every player named, whether in test number 152 or 1, has answered the call when their national team needed them. They want to bleed black and that’s the number one reason why they are in this team," says Cameron.

Basketball New Zealand and Cameron decided not to request access to the majority of ANBL players who are already facing a tricky season. The only ANBL exceptions are development players Taine Murray (NZ Breakers) and Jordan Hunt (Cairns Taipans) who were both released by their clubs for Saturday’s FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifier.

Murray debuted for the Tall Blacks against Canada in 2019 and the 18 year old has played two tests. He’s one of only two players in the squad with international experience, the other being captain Mika Vukona. Vukona, who has been based in Brisbane since 2018, will suit up in his 152nd test.

"It goes without saying that we’re going to need Mika. His dedication to the black singlet has been unwavering for 15 years. There isn’t a better person for this squad to be around and see what being a Tall Black means," says Cameron.

Before COVID-19, this game was planned to be played at this time in Spark Arena in Auckland. Unusually, although held in Cairns, Saturday’s game is officially the Tall Blacks ‘home’ game for the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers.

"This is an extraordinary game in what is an extraordinary time. We might not be playing at home, but we were able to find plenty of home in Australia thanks to these 12 guys," says Cameron.

Basketball Australia named the Boomers squad last week. Selectors also chose to select outside of the ANBL and instead went with a team comprising of current or recent graduates from Basketball Australia’s globally renowned Centre of Excellence program and the NBA Global Academy, both programs based at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra. Any team representing Australia are tough - this squad has the advantage of being very familiar, with most players having trained alongside each other in recent years.

Game details

Tall Blacks v Australian Boomers

Venue: Cairns Pop-up Arena

Tip Off: 6:30pm Local Time (9:30pm NZT)

Broadcaster: Māori Television

TALL BLACKS SQUAD TO FACE AUSTRALIA ON SATURDAY 20 FEBRUARY

Name

Club Team

Hometown

G

Zac Carter-

Brisbane Capitals

Palmerston North

F

Mitchell Dance-

Somerset Heat

Auckland

G/F

Ben Gold-

NBA Global Academy (Canberra)

Wellington

F

Jordan Hunt-

Cairns Taipans

Lower Hutt

F

Jono Janssen-

Sunshine Coast Phoenix

Auckland

G

Tane Kirisome-

Logan Thunder

Wellington

G

Zane Meehl-

Sunshine Coast Phoenix

Auckland

G

Taine Murray

NZ Breakers/ UVA

Auckland

G

Houston O'Riley-

Gold Coast

Auckland

G

Jackson Smyth-

Manly Warringah

Auckland

F

Joel Vaiangina-

Joondalup Wolves

Auckland

F

Mika Vukona

Southern District Spartans

Nelson

-denotes debutant

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