The 3×3 Tall Blacks have today named their squad for the upcoming FIBA 3×3 World Cup 2023 Qualifier event, to be held at Eilat Ice Mall in Israel on 6-7 May.
Led by head coach Piet Van Hasselt, the side will include Zac Easthope, Chris McIntosh, Ritchie Rodger and Aidan Tonge.
Rodger leads the squad with 15 appearances for the 3×3 Tall Blacks, including last year’s Commonwealth Games and the FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup earlier this month – the latter seeing him team up with McIntosh (8 caps) to claim bronze for New Zealand. Easthope has made 8 appearances for the 3×3 Tall Blacks in Asia Cup play (2019 and 2022) while 20-year-old Tonge will be making his 3×3 national team debut.
This FIBA 3×3 World Cup 2023 Qualifier event represents New Zealand’s last chance to qualify for this year’s 3×3 World Cup in Vienna, Austria from 30 May to 4 June. The 3×3 Tall Blacks need to finish in the top two of their pool – which includes hosts Israel and Hungary – to advance to the semi-final round, with a third place (or higher) finish at this tournament enough to earn them a 3×3 World Cup ticket.
Coach Van Hasselt says that since the 3×3 selection camps in February last year and the 3×3 PRO Quest Tour over the summer, he has been steadily building up a core group of top-level 3×3 players in New Zealand.
“It’s exciting to have four players from the 3×3 PRO Quest Tour heading to Israel in May, they understand the culture and what we need them to do,” says Van Hasselt.
“Having Chris jump into the 3×3 Tall Blacks as a ‘rookie’ at the Asia Cup was amazing, he’s played a lot of 3×3 NZ PRO Quest Stops and outside of the national team setup – and we saw him, and Richie really step up their play in the Asia Cup as the tournament progressed.
“Zac played for us in the Asia Cup in 2022, he filled that big man role well and now he helps fill the void left by Tai [Wynyard] and Dom [Kelman-Poto] who are both unavailable. I’m more than happy with Zac and Aidan in our squad and they’ll both fit in well; I know they’ll represent New Zealand with pride and integrity alongside Chris and Richie.”
Van Hasselt says he looks forward to the challenge of facing ‘some tough opponents’ in the 3×3 tall Black’s quest to earn a place at the 3×3 World Cup.
“We don’t get chances to play European 3×3 teams like Hungary and Israel that often, their national teams get to play a lot more 3×3 than we could ever dream of. They’re two legit 3×3 basketball teams and Israel is the host, so these pool games won’t be easy for us.
“But we’ve faced challenges at every tournament we’ve been at and we’ve been able to achieve so much over the past 15 months. Anything can happen in 3×3; it’s a 10-minute contest and if you make or miss a couple of shots then it can change the game.”
The 3×3 Tall Blacks will take part in the FIBA 3×3 World Cup 2023 Qualifier event on 6-7 May at Eilat Ice Mall in Israel. Watch live at www.youtube.com/fiba3x3
3×3 World Cup Qualifier Event (Men’s Pool A):
- Sunday 7 May, 5:05am NZT – New Zealand vs Hungary
- Sunday 7 May, 6:55am NZT – New Zealand vs Israel
- Monday 8 May (time TBC) – Semi-finals TBC
- Monday 8 May (time TBC) – Final TBC
3×3 Tall Blacks Squad
Zac Easthope, Franklin Bulls
Chris McIntosh, Auckland Tuatara
Ritchie Rodger, Taranaki Airs
Aidan Tonge, Canterbury Rams