Tall Black Assistant Coaches Named for WCQ Game on 30 June; Coaching Panel Announced

Tall Blacks head coach, Pero Cameron has named a pair of experienced assistant coaches for the upcoming World Cup Asia Qualifier game in Auckland.

Ross McMains and Zico Coronel will join Cameron on the sidelines at Eventfinda Stadium on 30 June, when the Tall Blacks take on Gilas Pilipinas in the first round of the World Cup Asia Qualifiers – as they battle for a spot in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023.

In addition, Cameron has named ex-Tall Black Mika Vukona as a player mentor for this game, with the veteran expected to provide guidance to the squad’s younger players during the team’s mini-camp which runs from 27-30 June in Auckland.

Cameron says that the experience provided by McMains and Coronel, in addition to Vukona’s presence in the camp, will be of ‘huge’ benefit to the squad as they prepare for their first game of home soil since 2018.

“Ross and Zico have an abundance of coaching experience between them, both at an international level as well as in the NBL. They’re respected by the players and will be able to help bring the best out of this squad when we face the Philippines,” says Cameron.

“And Mika is the obvious choice as a mentor for our younger guys; he’s played over 160 games in the black singlet [captaining 71 games] with the Tall Blacks, so he knows what it takes to win, how important it is to give your all when representing your country.”

In a break from tradition, the Tall Blacks have also named a panel of six assistant coaches for its Men’s squad for the current Olympics cycle.

In addition to Coronel and McMains, Trent Adam, Daryl Cartwright, Michael Fitchett and Judd Flavell have all been named to the Tall Blacks assistant coach panel. The team has also named Gavin Briggs as team manager within this cycle. Briggs, Cartwright and Fitchett will be on hand at the Tall Black’s mini-camp from 27 June, in advance of the Philippines game.

Cameron says he is thrilled with the coaching panel assembled and the added flexibility it affords the Tall Blacks, in the lead-up to both the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup and 2024 Olympics in Paris.

“2022 is obviously a huge year for us, and on the back of our recent Aspirational Funding allocation from HPSNZ we’re committed to rolling out a competitive Tall Blacks team.

“Because we’re embarking on a unique Olympic cycle – with only three years to get the Tall Blacks in a position to qualify – we’ve selected a panel of highly competent and talented coaches, some of who will be based in New Zealand while others will be based overseas, depending on their availability.

“These coaches all come with a diverse skill set and a different approach to how they contribute to the game, and they’ll play a key role in allowing us to compete and excel on the world stage.”

Cameron is also looking forward to facing his friend and ex-Tall Blacks teammate, Nenad Vucinic – who was recently been named as head coach of the Gilas Pilipinas squad.

“Nenad and I played together in the Tall Blacks for several years, then he moved into the coaching ranks and I played under him for another few years. He’s just a top coach and I have no doubt he’ll have his Philippines squad well-prepared and playing at their best against us. I look forward to the challenge.”

BBNZ Head of High Performance, Leonard King says that COVID has taught him and the team many lessons over the past two years, including the need to be prepared for unprecedented instability and uncertainty – which a panel of assistant coaches will provide.

“Living through this pandemic has taught us many things; first and foremost that we must think differently around how we navigate this new world which COVID has forced upon us.

“The real opportunities lie in us developing new guideposts and practices which work for our National teams, our players and our coaches. So we strongly believe this is the right approach for this group, both now and in the future.

“This panel allows us to be more flexible and responsive in our approach, which is a key ingredient for team success going forward.”

The Tall Blacks face Gilas Pilipinas in a World Cup Asia Qualifier game at Eventfinda Stadium on 30 June, their first game in New Zealand since 2018.

Tickets available at the Eventfinda website or via https://tinyurl.com/ycy6e9dd


Tall Blacks Assistant Coaching Panel – Bios

Ross McMains

2012–2013; Sacramento Kings (NBA), player development

2013–2015; Reno Bighorns (D-League), assistant coach

2015; Tall Blacks, assistant coach

2016; Taranaki Mountainairs (Sal’s NBL), head coach – named NZNBL Coach of the Year

2016–2017; Santa Cruz Warriors (G-League), assistant coach

2017–2018; Westchester Knicks (G-League), assistant coach

2018–2019; New York Knicks (NBA), head video coordinator

2019–2020; Melbourne United (ANBL), assistant coach

2021–present; Louisville Cardinals (NCAA Div 1), assistant coach


Zico Coronel

2010-17; Wellington Saints (Sal’s NBL), assistant coach

2017; NZ U16 Boys team, head coach

2018-19; Taylor Bay Hawks (Sal’s NBL), head coach

2019-20; NZ Breakers (ANBL), assistant coach

2021; Wellington Saints (Sal’s NBL), head coach – named Sal’s NBL Coach of the Year

2021-22; Shimane Susanoo Magic (Japan) assistant coach


Trent Adam

2010; U19 Women’s team, assistant coach

2010; U18 Men’s team, assistant coach

2016; Junior Tall Ferns, assistant coach

2017; U18 Men’s team, assistant coach

2018; NZ Select Men’s team, assistant coach

2022; Taranaki Airs (Sal’s NBL), head coach

2022; Tall Blacks, assistant coach


Daryl Cartwright

2002-2007; Appeared in 14 games as a player for the Tall Blacks

2014; Junior Tall Blacks assistant coach

2016; NZ Select Men’s team, assistant coach

2016-17; Junior Tall Blacks, head coach

2022; Tall Blacks, assistant coach


Michael Fitchett

2007–11; Appeared in 55 games as a player for the Tall Blacks

2014; Junior Tall Blacks, assistant coach

2015; U17 Men’s team, head coach

2016–19; NZ Breakers (ANBL), assistant coach

2016-17; NZ Select Men’s team, assistant coach

2017-20; Tall Blacks, assistant coach

2019-Current; Nelson Giants (Sal’s NBL), head coach


Judd Flavell

1999–2002; Appeared in 38 games as a player for the Tall Blacks

2007–19; NZ Breakers (ANBL), assistant coach

2013; U18 Men’s team, head coach

2014; Junior Tall Blacks, assistant coach

2016-19; Southland Sharks (Sal’s NBL), head coach – won title in 2018

2020; Tall Blacks, assistant coach

2021; South-East Melbourne Phoenix (ANBL), assistant coach

2022; Canterbury Rams (Sal’s NBL), head coach