Due to the spike in the number of high performance events and the costs of sending teams abroad, the Basketball New Zealand Board has made the difficult decision to withdraw the Tall Blacks from the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Serbia (already postponed from 2020) and the New Zealand men’s 3X3 team from the 2021 OQT in Austria.
This decision comes after FIBA, understandably, requested Basketball New Zealand’s confirmation of entries for these events.
After consultation with senior players and the Players Association in recent weeks, the Board agreed to prioritise ‘events that qualify into long-term cycles’. With that in mind, the Board confirmed investment for ‘must-play’ competitions including the Tall Ferns and Tall Blacks FIBA Asia Cup cycles, which qualifies for the FIBA World Cup cycles, which is a qualification route to the 2024 Olympics. Basketball New Zealand’s Board has also added the FIBA 3X3 Asia Cups (men and women) as they lead to the 2022 FIBA 3X3 World Cups.
While it’s pleasing these events are now locked in, Basketball NZ says the cutting of this year’s OQTs was necessary, especially when the cost of Managed Isolation and Quarantine beds and vastly more expensive travel costs have almost doubled the forecast expense of sending teams abroad to play in international competitions.
Basketball New Zealand Chief Executive, Iain Potter, says ultimately the Board must make strategic decisions that are balanced with financial acumen.
“The Board spent considerable time weighing up the future of our international teams. They have accepted a level of measured risk, with a deficit forecast for this year that we are backing ourselves to cover through sponsorship and additional funding. But even with the additional commitment, the programme would require another three-quarters of a million dollars to ensure we could participate in all scheduled 2021 events.
“Ultimately the Board agreed to focus on how we will maintain our responsibility to play in international competitions and ensure we can still compete in the future, and to make sure our men’s and women’s programmes are given equal opportunity,” says Potter.
“The players, staff and the Board realise we are not operating like we did pre-COVID. For an international team, everything is more expensive. In these unprecedented times we must consolidate, or we risk something far greater and that’s not seeing any international basketball for the Tall Ferns or Tall Blacks over the next four-year cycle.”
Further information on the junior New Zealand programme will be made available in the coming weeks.