Game Preview: Tall Blacks vs Egypt, FIBA World Cup 2023

The Tall Blacks play their fifth and final game of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 tonight, taking on Egypt in a classification game at MOA Arena, Manila.

With a full day’s rest between games, New Zealand will look to come out strong against Egypt, who are winners of their last two games – their victories over Mexico and Jordan helping to give them a chance to obtain Africa’s sole spot for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

The Tall Blacks also have a pathway to Olympic qualification still in place, but it all starts with a victory over Egypt tonight. If they can get the win and other results go in New Zealand’s favour, then the Kiwi’s will be included among the 24 countries who participate in a FIBA Olympic Qualifiers Series in June 2024.

Although the Tall Blacks have been unsuccessful in their past two games, they have performed well in parts and shown they are elite in the scoring and outside shooting department. Against Greece, New Zealand built a 15-point third-quarter lead against the world’s ninth-ranked team, led by the offensive duo of Shea Ili (27 pts & 8 ast) and Reuben Te Rangi (19 pts).

Against Mexico, Te Rangi lit it up for 32 points – including a trio of three pointers in the final 90 seconds to bring the Tall Blacks to within 4 – while Ili was again fearless with 18 points and 10 assists. As a team, the Kiwis hit 17 triples at a 41.5% clip; they currently sit second in the entire competition in three-point percentage with 42%, behind only Canada. And despite their tiredness they also reduced their turnovers to 14, including just three miscues in the final frame – an encouraging sign for the team that leads this World Cup in turnover rate.

It’s not just a two-man show for New Zealand. Finn Delany has been a revelation for this Tall Blacks squad, averaging 13.8ppg & a team-leading 7.3 rebounds per game while making 2.5 triples per game at a 42% clip. And the big man duo of Yanni Wetzell and Isaac Fotu have held down the fort throughout the first four games – Wetzell leads the team in field goal percentage at 57% – while Jordan Ngatai (5.8ppg) has been a solid outside scorer when needed. Although Izayah Le’afa (9.3ppg) has been quiet after his 23-point explosion versus Jordan, he leads the team with 1.8 swipes per game and is second in assists (3.8apg).

This is the first time that the Tall Blacks have faced Egypt in the FIBA World Cup, and they will be weary of the African country’s recent form. In their 85-69 win over Jordan on Thursday, the Egyptians were led by Assem Marei’s impressive 20 point, 14 rebound performance, while guard Ehab Amin had 20 points, seven boards and four assists. Egypt pummelled Jordan on the boards, getting 17 offensive rebounds – including 7 from Marei – for a huge 21-10 second chance points advantage.

Egypt are not known for their outside shooting, averaging only 6.8 makes per game at a 31% rate, but they have a strong inside presence; against Jordan they scored 50 of their 85 points in the paint. The Egyptians are also highly motivated to win this game, knowing that an Olympic spot is within their grasp – something they have not achieved since 1988. A victory for them over New Zealand, combined with a South Sudan loss to Angola, would give Egypt the sole Africa spot in the Paris 2024 Olympics.

New Zealand faces Egypt tonight at 8.45pm NZT on Saturday 2 September, in the second of two qualification games to determine their final standing from 17-32 in the FIBA World Cup rankings. Watch live & free on TVNZ Duke (Freeview Channel 6 or Sky Channel 23) or on TVNZ+ at

Find out more about the FIBA World Cup at


Tall Blacks 1st Round Schedule – FIBA Men’s Basketball World Cup

New Zealand vs USA – Sunday 27 August, 12.40am NZT (lost 72-99)

New Zealand vs Jordan – Monday 28 August, 8.45pm NZT (won 95-87)

New Zealand vs Greece – Thursday 31 August, 12.40am NZT (lost 74-83)

New Zealand vs Mexico (Classification game) – Thursday 31 August, 8.45pm NZT (lost 100-108)

New Zealand vs Egypt (Classification game) – Saturday 2 September, 8.45pm NZT


Tall Blacks Squad vs USA, FIBA Men’s Basketball World Cup 2023

Finn Delany, NZ Breakers

Flynn Cameron, Melbourne United

Hyrum Harris, Hawkes Bay Hawks / Perth Wildcats

Isaac Fotu, Utsunomiya Brex

Izayah Le’Afa, Wellington Saints / NZ Breakers

Jordan Ngatai, Hawkes Bay Hawks

Reuben Te Rangi, Auckland Tuatara / S.E. Melbourne Phoenix

Shea Ili, Melbourne United

Taylor Britt, Canterbury Rams

Tohi Smith-Milner, Wellington Saints / Adelaide 36ers

Walter Brown, Canterbury Rams / Tasmania Jackjumpers

Yanni Wetzell, Alba Berlin


Egypt Squad vs New Zealand

Amr Zahran

Karim Elgizawy

Ehab Amin

Amr El Gendy

Adam Moussa

Anas Mahmoud

Youssef Aboushousha

Patrick Gardner

Khaled Abdelgawad

Omar Hussein

Assem Marei

Omar Oraby