MBO Tall Blacks Assistant Coach Ross McMains returns to the fold for the upcoming FIBA World Cup qualifying games against Hong Kong and China, after missing the February window and Gold Coast Commonwealth Games due to his coaching commitments in the United States.
McMains is an Assistant Coach with Westchester Knicks, the official NBA G League affiliate of the New York Knickerbockers and has recently been appointed to the coaching staff of the famous NBA franchise.
The Westchester Knicks enjoyed a hugely productive season with McMains on board, topping the G League Western Conference with a 32-18 record, before being upset by the Raptors in the one-off Conference semifinal.
While he continues to forge a successful coaching career in the States, McMains loves nothing more than to come home and work with players wearing the black singlet.
“New Zealand is home for me, when I am representing and coaching New Zealand there is no other part of my coaching life that I am more passionate about, this connects with my heart and my soul more than anything. It is a wonderful feeling when you represent your national team, you forget your individual goals and put it on for your country, it is an awesome feeling.
“I am really excited to be back. Because of the way the windows are now I can’t always make it back if I am working with a team during the season as I have been with Westchester, but any opportunity outside of that is a privilege, I am thrilled to be back and working with Pauli, PC and Fitch and the players.”
McMains says the style of coaching and the time pressure that he often faces in the G League is not dissimilar to coming into this window with the Tall Blacks.
“This will be my first FIBA Window, but my background in the G League will definitely help me in the short time we have with the team. Sometimes we are told we have two new players 24 hours out from a game and we have to integrate those guys, break your system down to them and have them understand. This is similar to the windows where we have a short period to develop a system and style of play with your team and be successful with it.”
Clearly McMains is catching the attention of people in high places, with Westchester’s strong season leading to a new role under recently appointed New York Knicks Head Coach David Fizdale. McMains will work in the NBA as the Knicks Head Video Coordinator and work in player development.
“It was a good season, we had the best regular season record and unluckily lost in the playoffs. But we had three different players called up to the NBA through the season and two two-way players that finished the year with the Knicks and had a lot of success with them, so in terms of our development goals, we hit our targets and had a successful year.”
“The G League is the only league in the world that you go to technically to get the heck out as fast as you can, because everyone is trying to move up to the NBA or get to Europe or get that higher paying job. There is a natural selfishness and individualism that permeates the league because of the function of it, and that is not to knock it, that is how it is, that is what the G League is set up for.
“But as a coach you are constantly fighting that to a degree as you try and get the players to buy into the fact you have their best interests in mind in building that winning culture and you won’t have development if you don’t have that winning culture where players are trying to make winning plays on the floor and do the intangible things at both ends of the floor.”
MBO Tall Blacks Head Coach Paul Henare says McMains brings an unrivalled energy and knowledge of the game to the Tall Blacks environment and complements the other coaches perfectly.
“We are blessed with coaching talent in this country and have some amazing people to call on with all of our national teams. Ross lives and breathes the game in the States and as a result is often at the leading edge of innovation in the game and brings that into the Tall Blacks.
“He is a details guy; his one on one work is world class as is his ability to scout the opposition and break down individual skill sets or team patterns. But his energy and passion for the game and for his country is just incredible, anyone that spends any time around Ross goes away buzzing and ready to take on the world.”
McMains echoed that energy down the line from New York as he prepares to fly home to work with the wider squad in wellington from July 17, and then with the final roster for the games against Hong Kong in Rotorua (June 28) and China in Auckland (July 1).
“We carry points over into the next phase, we want to get both of these games and we are focused on getting both. We play Hong Kong first and we have to be locked in on that and then we will have to bring that same mindset against China.
“To me that is the biggest single plus of the windows, we get to have home games versus China or Hong Kong or any of the teams coming up, that is awesome. To play any of these teams at home is awesome, I am really excited for both games, it is going to be great.”
FIBA World Cup Qualifiers: Round 1, Group A – Tall Blacks Games
New Zealand is in Group A for the first window, along with China, South Korea and Hong Kong. The top three will progress and carry points through to next window of qualifying.
• 23 November v South Korea, in Wellington. (Tall Blacks lost 80 – 86)
• 26 November v Hong Kong, in Hon Kong. (Tall Blacks won 133 – 74).
• 23 February v China, Dongguan Basketball Center, China. (Tall Blacks won 82 – 73)
• 26 February v South Korea, Jamsil Arena, Seoul. (Tall Blacks won 93 – 84)
• 28 June v Hong Kong, Energy Events Centre, Rotorua. 7pm.
• 1 July v China, Spark Arena, Auckland. 3:30pm.
MBO Tall Blacks vs Hong Kong in Rotorua on 28 June and vs China in Auckland on 1 July on sale 8 May here: http://www.ticketmaster.co.nz/New-Zealand-Tall-Blacks-tickets/artist/1132500?tm_link=artist_artistvenue_module
• The meaning of Tu Kaha, the Tall Blacks haka
• Learn more about the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers (Asia Zone).
• Tall Blacks supporters gear can be purchased here.
• Follow the Tall Blacks’ social media channels: @TallBlacks Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
• Tall Blacks media releases.
• All Tall Blacks FIBA World Cup Qualifying games will be broadcast by Maori Television.