It seems appropriate given MBO Tall Blacks Head Coach Paul Henare is in Invercargill, that Derone Raukawa should be the player announced to join the Tall Blacks roster for the upcoming FIBA World Cup Qualifying games.

Raukawa is a popular if not cult figure in the region, having made his name with the Southland Sharks, helping them to considerable success in the Sal’s NBL in recent years. His leadership and scoring output from point guard playing a huge role in their success in reaching a semi-final and two grand finals.

The Levin born 24-year-old has been playing for the Sharks since signing in 2016 and scored 16 points to help his side win the Grand Final 98-96 over the Wellington Saints earlier this year. 

The opportunity knocked at Raukawa’s door after Corey Webster withdrew sighting fatigue and niggling injuries. Always positive and upbeat, Raukawa was buzzing at his selection.

“I was hyped to get the call and the great news from Pauli, telling me that I had been called up. I have told him previously that anytime the team is getting together I will be ready, especially for these World Cup Qualifiers. I know how much it means for the game here and for us as players.

“I have made sure that I am ready physically and mentally should I get the call up at any time, and I am ready to go. I know I can contribute to this team and this news is just amazing. I can’t wait to get into camp with the brothers and go to work, and have the chance to play two games at home in front of family and friends.”

Henare knows Raukawa well and sees what he adds to any group he is associated with.

“Derone brings a unique energy about him to the group, on and off the floor. He also has a unique ability in the way he can score the ball, I am just proud for him and pleased to be able to call him back into the group. 

“Losing someone like Corey and looking at our guard lineup, it is an area where we might need some scoring punch. I look back to the Asia Cup in 2017 and giving the likes of Shea and Reuben and Finn opportunities, and one of the guys given that chance and doing a fantastic job was Derone Raukawa. He has played Jordan before too, so knows he can bring that knowledge and confidence that he can help our team in this game.”

Raukawa has been on the fringe of the MBO Tall Blacks in recent years since his debut in 2016 and played superbly off the bench at the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup, backing up Shea Ili at point guard but also playing in the shooting guard position, averaging 10 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists. He was also a member of the team that won bronze at the recent 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

MBO Tall Blacks. FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, Window Five Round Two:

• Tom Abercrombie. SKYCITY Breakers
• Finn Delany. Mike Pero Nelson Giants, SKYCITY Breakers
• Tyrell Harrison. Brisbane Bullets
• Shea Ili. Cigna Saints, SKYCITY Breakers
• Jarrod Kenny. Taylor Hawks, Cairns Taipans
• Rob Loe. Cairns Taipans
• Jordan Ngatai. Cigna Saints, SKYCITY Breakers
• Kruz Perrott-Hunt. Rosmini College, SKYCITY Breakers Development
• Alex Pledger. SIT Zerofees Southland Sharks, Melbourne United
• Derone Raukawa. SIT Zerofees Southland Sharks
• Ethan Rusbatch. Taylor Hawks
• Tohi Smith-Milner. Mike Pero Nelson Giants, Melbourne United
• Reuben Te Rangi. SIT Zerofees Southland Sharks, Brisbane Bullets
• Mika Vukona. Mike Pero Nelson Giants, Brisbane Bullets
(This list will be shortened to 12 players at least 24 hours before the Jordan game).

More information:

• 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 FacebookTwitterInstagram. Hashtags: #TuKaha #TallBlacks #FIBAWC #ThisIsMyHouse
• Tall Blacks website 
 Read about Tū Kaha and the Tall Blacks culture
• The games will be broadcast live by the Host Broadcaster, Maori Television
• Watch the Tū Kaha webisode series on the Tall Blacks.