Tom Abercrombie is loving every moment back in the MBO Tall Blacks environment, the experienced swingman is one of the leaders in the group currently in camp in Wellington, first looking to make the final cut for the upcoming FIBA World Cup Basketball Qualifiers against Hong Kong (Rotorua June 28) and China (Auckland July 1), but also to prepare for those very games.
Abercrombie is one of the players coming into the camp without much recent play behind him, as he has enjoyed a break since the end of the NBL season with the Breakers and while he is as diligent as ever in his personal preparation, he says there is nothing quite like actual scrimmages to get ready for such big games.
“I am pretty sore at the moment, it has been a shock to the system getting up and down again, but it is exactly what I and others who are not playing needed and we will be all the better for it.
“There is no substitute for the up and down game fitness, you can do as much individual work as you want, but actually getting the scrimmages in and getting in some 3 on 3 and 5 on 5 you can’t replace that, so it has been good to work with a bunch of guys who are a little bit fitter than me and are pushing me, I am starting to feel better as a result.”
While the 30-year-old can very much expect to be in the final roster named by Head Coach Paul Henare for these upcoming games, he is training and trialing alongside the next generation in Wellington, with a host of young players being given their chance to impress and force their way into the team.
“It has been great, I think those guys have come in and held their own. I remember when I came in to the Tall Blacks as a teenager and remembering how awed I was by the occasion, but these guys come in with so much confidence and poise which is fantastic to see, it shows the future of basketball with the talent we have coming through being so impressive is in good hands.”
Abercrombie knows the significant of the upcoming games in Rotorua and Auckland, with the game against China making a case for one of the bigger home games in the history of Tall Blacks basketball – playing a full strength China team in a World Cup Qualifying fixture – something rarely if ever seen before in New Zealand under the old Oceania based system.
“This is part of the process, to get ready for those games as much as it is a camp or trial situation, our eyes are on those two games next week and doing everything I can, and we can do go out and get two wins. They are massively important games for us, they carry weight in this round but also carry into the next round where every win counts, so they are massive games.”
After already playing in white hot atmospheres in Hong Kong, Korea and China, Abercrombie hopes the home fans and sporting community get right in behind the MBO Tall Blacks, with Rotorua enjoying the chance as a regional centre to host international basketball, and Auckland hosting the big one against China, where a large turnout of ex-pat Chinese fans is likely to compete with the home fans for the loudest section of the crowd.
“I think as players we are so pumped and ecstatic to be playing these home games on our home floor and with our own fans. This is an amazing opportunity for us but also for the fans to come out and watch New Zealand basketball players who are playing all over the world and only get these couple of chances to come back home and play together, so hopefully we get great support there to cheer us along.”
WORLD CUP 2019 QUALIFIERS
This June and July FIBA World Cup Qualifiers window will conclude the First Round. The Second Round will tip off in September 2018 and feature 60 teams: 24 in Europe and 12 each in Africa, the Americas and Asia-Oceania. That second window will be made up of three windows (in orange below).
The Second Round of the Qualifiers will come to a close with 31 national teams booking their tickets to join tournament hosts China at the first-ever 32-team FIBA Basketball World Cup taking place from 31 August to 15 September, 2019.
MBO Tall Blacks FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, ROUND ONE
Date | Opponents | Home/Away
· 23 Nov 2017 vs Korea at TSB Bank Arena, Wellington. Result: Tall Blacks lost 80-86
· 26 Nov 2017 vs Hong Kong at Southourn Stadium, Hong Kong. Result: Tall Blacks won 133-74
· 23 Feb 2018 vs China at Dongguan Basketball Centre, China. Result: Tall Blacks won 82-73
· 26 Feb 2018 vs Korea at Jamsil Gymnasium, Seoul, South Korea. Result: Tall Blacks won 93-84
· 28 Jun 2018 vs Hong Kong at Energy Events Centre, Rotorua. Tip off at 7pm. TICKETS
· 1 Jul 2018 vs China vs Spark Arena, Auckland. Tip off at 3pm. TICKETS
MBO Tall Blacks FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, ROUND TWO
Date | Opponents | Home/Away
- 13 Sep 2018 TBA (Pool C crossover) AWAY
- 17 Sep 2018 TBA (Pool C crossover) HOME
- 29 Nov 2018 TBA (Pool C crossover) HOME
- 2 Dec 2018 TBA (Pool C crossover) HOME
- 21 or 22 Feb 2019 TBA (Pool C crossover) AWAY
- 24 or 25 Feb 2019 TBA (Pool C crossover) AWAY
• Learn more about the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers (Asia Zone) here.
• Tall Blacks supporters gear can be purchased here.
• Follow the Tall Blacks’ social media channels: @TallBlacks Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Hashtags: #TuKaha #TallBlacks #FIBAWC #ThisIsMyHouse
• Tall Blacks website
• Read about Tu Kaha and the Tall Blacks culture
• The games will be broadcast live by the Host Broadcaster, Maori Television