Tall Blacks Head Coach Pero Cameron has confirmed his assistant coaches for 2020, with Michael Fitchett taking the role for the upcoming February window and Asia Cup qualifying games, while Judd Flavell steps in for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in June.

Fitchett and then Flavell will join Cameron and incumbent assistant Ross McMains as the Tall Blacks first look to establish their credentials for the 2021 Asia Cup with games against Australia and Guam next month, and then head to Serbia in June for a must-win tournament to book a place at Tokyo 2020.

Cameron is delighted that Fitchett and Flavell, both former teammates, have confirmed for the respective campaigns that make up his seven-month contract in charge of the national team.

“I have huge respect for Mike and Judd, and the qualities they will bring to the group. I trust them implicitly in their ability to go about their work and I know they have the respect of the players, but most importantly I trust them to challenge me and in doing so I know they will make us better as a coaching group and the team better equipped on court.

“It was vital that whoever I turned to has a strong appreciation of this team, how it works and the culture that underpins everything we do. We need to hit the ground running this year, with a strong focus on continuing the good form that we showed at the World Cup, in particular the wins over Japan and Turkey to end the tournament.”

Both Fitchett and Flavell are former guards, former Tall Blacks, and both have already worked in the national programme alongside Cameron under former Head Coach Paul Henare, bringing an intimate understanding of the environment and culture that underpins the team.

Fitchett is preparing to take the Nelson Giants into another Sal’s NBL campaign, one that will run through the time of the Olympic Qualifiers in June, but he says he can’t wait to work with Cameron and the team next month.

“It is always a huge privilege to work with the Tall Blacks and for this next window it is really exciting for me to be working under Hall of Famer Pero Cameron. I know Pero well and can’t wait to see what he brings to the team as Head Coach. He is hugely talented and unique in the attributes he brings to the role, I can’t wait to add my pieces to the puzzle and help this team on the international stage.”

Flavell is currently based in Melbourne as an Assistant Coach with the South East Melbourne Phoenix in the Australian National Basketball League and is also eager to get to work with the Tall Blacks.

“I am honoured to be part of the Tall Blacks programme again after previous experiences as both a player and in coaching roles. The Tall Blacks has shaped me as a coach, but also into the person I am today. I am excited with the upcoming challenges for the team and our quest to qualify for the Olympic Games. It is a big ask but that is nothing new for this team, we are used to the odds being stacked against us.

“While I won’t be directly involved in February, I will be in regular contact with Pero and the staff, and keeping a close eye on the games in this window, knowing that they play a huge part as we continue towards our major goal this year of another Olympic Games appearance.”

The Tall Blacks roster will be named later this week and will assemble in Brisbane on 17 February, to play Australia on the 20th. They then travel to Guam to play the Tai Wesley led pacific nation in the first round of 2021 Asia Cup Qualifiers, with the top two teams from Group C qualifying automatically for the 2021 tournament. Hong Kong are the other team in the Group.

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