1978 Men’s National Team (2021) | Team

In 1978, the New Zealand Men’s National Team competed against Australia in the FIBA World Championship Qualifying series against Australia. New Zealand did not play well in Game One of the three-game series – which was held at the YMCA in Auckland – losing 93-71.

Preparing for Game Two the team still had a strong belief that they could beat the strong Australian team. The game was held in Walter Nash Stadium in Hull Valley, before a sold-out crowd. The game was close all the way, a 51-50 score line in favour of NZ with six minutes to play emphasising that.

With seconds on the clock and behind one point, John Hill got an offensive tip-in on a missed jump shot by captain John Macdonald, to win the game 68-67.

In preparation for Game Three in Christchurch at Cowles Stadium, the mood in the team was very upbeat. The pressure was now on Australia as no-one picked NZ to have any success against the very talented Australian team. Again, this was a close game from start to finish before Australia prevailed 76-69. Not many calls went the NZ way during the entire game, especially in the fourth quarter, and the Australian referee made sure of that.

Stand outs of this series were captain John Macdonald who it was felt outplayed veteran Australian point guard Phil Smythe. Stan Hill, who had just returned from a one-year stint at San Jose State University in California, was in the best shape of his career and extremely motivated to beat the Aussies. Work-horse John Hill, Stan’s brother, was a very solid performer in all three games.

Others who played well during the series included John ‘Dutchie’ Rademakers, Warwick Meehl, John Fairweather, Stu’ Ferguson, Gordon ‘Rookie’ Reardon, and youngster John Van Uden.

By losing the series 2-1 the team were extremely annoyed, particularly with the result of the third game. However, looking back and seeing that New Zealand’s next win against Australia would take 24 years to achieve, they can feel proud of themselves – after all it was a very talented and strong Australian team, coached by Australia’s FIBA Hall of Famer, Lindsay Gaze.

Also, in 1978, the team took part in the inaugural Commonwealth Basketball Championships in Great Britain. The same group of players, but without captain John Macdonald, wore the Silver Fern at the tournament. The team progressed to the final against highly ranked Canada. They lost that game, but were extremely proud and happy to come home with a silver medal.

The Hill brothers, Stan and John, were once again outstanding. ‘Dutchie’ Rademakers, Warwick Meehl and Stu’ Ferguson played extremely well in the back court.

1978 Team

Staff:

  • Head Coach: Steve McKean
  • Assistant Coach: Peter Schmidt
  • Manager: Ivan Dominikovich

Players:

  • John Macdonald
  • Stan Hill
  • John Hill
  • John Van Uden
  • Gordon Reardon
  • Warwick Meehl
  • John Rademakers
  • Stuart Ferguson
  • John Fairweather
  • Paul Barrett

From this team Steve McKean, John Macdonald and Stan Hill have previously been inducted into the New Zealand Basketball Hall of Fame.