The Aon Junior Tall Ferns head to Bengaluru, India this week to compete in the 2018 FIBA U18 Asian Championship.
Sixteen teams are equally divided into A and B Divisions. New Zealand are in Pool B of the A Division drawn alongside Malaysia, defending champions China and 2016 silver medalists Japan.
Pool A is made up of Australia, Korea, Chinese Taipei and Indonesia.
The top four teams will represent Asia at the 2019 FIBA U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup.
The Junior Tall Ferns open their campaign against Japan at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on 28 October (tip-off 1:15am 29 October, NZ time).
New Zealand will be led by Charlisse Leger-Walker playing at her third major tournament in 2018.
Leger-Walker was a member of the Tall Ferns bronze medal winning team at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April. In July, she led the New Zealand scoring at the FIBA U17 World Cup in Belarus averaging 15.1 points per game.
Also backing up from the U17 World Cup is Leger-Walker’s Waikato teammate Ella Bradley and Harbour guard Tayla Dalton.
Leger-Walker, Bradley and Dalton also have experience of playing in Bangaluru. All three played at the FIBA U16 Asian Championship twelve months ago. Harbour guard Tessa Talo-Tomokino also made that trip, as did Head Coach Jody Cameron.
Coach Cameron says that tournament a year ago means she has some clarity of what to expect during this trip.
“It will be a challenge with the long travel and a short turnaround before our first game. It’s not ideal but it’s what you make of it, and being Kiwis we will make the best of the situation and certainly won’t be making excuses. We don’t have the luxury of resources that some teams have, but we do have the luxury of having mature dedicated individuals that know what is required. A lot of the team has experience playing in FIBA tournaments, so now have an understanding of what is required at the international level. They are looking forward to the challenge,” said Cameron.
Cameron thinks having former Tall Ferns teammate Leanne Walker as one of her assistant coaches is extremely advantageous. The pair were both on the New Zealand team that attended the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
“We get on really well. I’ve learnt a lot from Leanne, both when I was playing and now as a coach. She has an immense understanding of the game, and a vast amount of knowledge and experience. She understands time frames, competition and what is required at tournaments. She has won so many titles in New Zealand and it’s great to have someone like that at your side. We have a great working relationship,” added Cameron.
Four players return to international duty having last played for New Zealand at the 2017 FIBA U17 Oceania Championship in Guam. Grace Hunter, Leah Mafua (both Wellington), Olivia O’Neill (Otago) and Charlotte Whittaker (Canterbury) all played key roles as the Kiwi’s secured silver medals at that championship.
Harbour guard Emme Shearer earns a call-up after some outstanding performances for the New Zealand U16 team last year.
Coach Cameron hands debuts to Rochelle Fourie, Koha Lewis and Sofia Kennedy.
Lewis has been a consistent performer in Waikato age-group teams in recent seasons and Fourie was outstanding at the Schick Secondary Schools National Championships recently, earning Tournament MVP recognition as Manukura claimed the Girls ‘A’ title.
Kennedy is set to become, like Shearer, a dual international. The Canterbury guard having represented New Zealand at the World Schools Cross Country Championships in Paris in April. Shearer played volleyball for New Zealand earlier in the year.
For all information regarding the draw, live statistics and live streaming go to
Fans will be able to watch all the games live on FIBA’s Facebook (Facebook.com/FIBA) page and Youtube.com/FIBA channel.
2018 Aon Junior Tall Ferns:
Ella Bradley (Waikato Basketball Council/Waikato Wizards)
Tayla Dalton (North Harbour Basketball/Harbour Breeze)
Rochelle Fourie (Manawatu Basketball)
Grace Hunter (Wellington Basketball)
Sofia Kennedy (Canterbury Basketball)
Charlisse Leger-Walker (Waikato Basketball Council/Waikato Wizards)
Koha Lewis (Waikato Basketball Council/Waikato Wizards)
Leah Mafua (Wellington Basketball)
Olivia O’Neill (Basketball Otago/Otago Gold Rush)
Emilia Shearer (North Harbour Basketball)
Tessa Talo-Tomokino (North Harbour Basketball/Harbour Breeze)
Charlotte Whittaker (North Canterbury Association/North Canterbury Spirit)
Jody Cameron. Head Coach
Leanne Walker. Assistant Coach
Tim Dennis. Assistant Coach
Peter Lee. Physiotherapist
Kate Lacey. Team Manager