2degrees Tall Ferns Name Interim Coaching Staff

With a pair of international tours on the horizon – including a friendly series against Japan next month and the FIBA World Cup Pre-Qualifiers in Mexico in August – the 2degrees Tall Ferns have named their interim coaching staff for this period in Aik Ho, Chaz Franklin and Leanne Walker.

Aik Ho returns to the Tall Ferns coaching staff after a previous run as an assistant coach from 2005 to 2021, where he helped guide New Zealand to a silver medal at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games and bronze at the 2018 edition on the Gold Coast. He brings over 20 years of international experience, having also served as Tall Blacks 3×3 Assistant Coach for last year’s Trans-Tasman series and a lead coaching role with the Cook Island Basketball Federation.

American-based Chaz Franklin is currently the Director of Player Development with the Marquette University women’s programme, following two years in player development with the WNBA’s Chicago Sky and a support role with the USA men’s team. Earlier this year, Franklin attended an age group national team camp in Auckland where he shared his knowledge with some of New Zealand’s top female athletes. He also supported the NZ U17 national team in April at the ‘Elite Is Earned’ Spring Invitational in Sacramento, California.

Leanne Walker is well-known in Aotearoa as a celebrated Tall Fern and two-time Olympian. She is currently Head of House at St Peter’s Cambridge, where she has coached the premier girls basketball team since 2003, and was assistant coach of the championship-winning Northern Kāhu in 2022. Walker has been part of the Tall Ferns staffing staff since 2021, playing a key support role in the team’s fourth-place finish at last year’s 2023 Asia Cup. She was also with the squad for their 2022 tour of Australia, 2023 Europe tour and the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in China earlier this year.


“They each bring something unique to the table.”

BBNZ High Performance Programme Manager (Women), Lisa Wallbutton says she is excited to see what this trio of coaches can bring to the squad in terms of skill and experience.

“We are really excited about this group; we believe they bring diversity of experience, thought and a skill set that will add value to the programme and elevate our performance environment,” says Wallbutton.

“They will also complement head coach Natalie [Hurst’s] skillset and they each bring something unique to the table.

“Aik is well known by the Tall Ferns programme and has a good knowledge of the current college athletes and current Tall Ferns. He is our expert in scouting, video analysis and international basketball trends, and he will bring innovative player development ideas – helping to elevate our team culture with his work ethic and positive demeanour.

“Chaz has coached and played at a high level and brings international experience. His strengths lie in player development and relationships as well as being a highly competent technical/tactical coach. He knows the level that top female athletes are at in the USA and we want to use his knowledge and expertise to bridge that gap with our players. He will bring added energy and knowledge to our bench.

“And Leanne brings personal playing and coaching experience and a deep personal connection to the programme. She understands where we have come from and where we are trying to go. Her strengths are in athlete relationships, teaching and learning – having coached through the junior national space, she has a good understanding of both current college athletes and Tall Ferns athletes.”


2degrees Tall Ferns – Japan Friendly Tour

Amiee Book

Ella Bradley, University of Texas at Tyler (NCAA Div II)

Grace Hunter, California State Bakersfield Roadrunners (NCAA Div I)

Waiata Jennings, Collin College Cougars (NJCAA)

Eva Langton, Norwood Flames (NBL1)

Tara Manumaleuga, Texas Christian University (NZCCA Div I)

Esra McGoldrick, Casey Cavaliers (NBL1)

Lilly Parke, Fairleigh Dickinson University (NCAA Div I)

Tera Reed, Keilor Thunder (NBL1)

Lilly Taulelei, University of Massachusetts (NCAA Div I)

Tahlia Tupaea, Penrith Panthers (NBL1)

Lauren Whittaker, Gonzaga University Bulldogs (NCAA Div I)


Schedule – Japan Friendly Tour (July 2024)

4 July – New Zealand vs Japan

6 July – New Zealand vs Japan


Schedule – FIBA World Cup Pre-Qualifiers (August 2024)*

19 August – New Zealand vs Montenegro

21 August – New Zealand vs Mexico

22 August – New Zealand vs Mozambique


*Squad yet to be announced