In announcing the appointments, Basketball New Zealand CEO Iain Potter spoke of the opportunities awaiting both teams in 2015 and beyond and the competition for the various roles.
“This is such an exciting time in the game with both the men and women looking to qualify for the Rio Olympics, via either the Oceania qualifiers or through subsequent FIBA Qualifying Tournaments.
“The interviewing panel was unanimous in our choices and have been hugely impressed by the caliber of the applicants from here in New Zealand and overseas. In both Paul and Kennedy we have coaches with an outstanding passion for the game and our country that will see them lead their respective programmes with a great desire and commitment, matching their considerable coaching expertise.”
Both Henare and Kereama were given latitude to select their own coaching and management teams, albeit Potter emphasized that the selection panel was at one with the choices made and the mix of personalities and expertise that both coaching groups possess.
Henare feels honoured to be named Head Coach and was quick to acknowledge the potential he sees in the national team.
“I am humbled and incredibly proud to have been named Head Coach of our national team and will bring the same desire, passion and commitment to the role that I have brought throughout my playing career and more latterly, my coaching career in both the New Zealand and Australian leagues.
“These are exciting times for the game in this country, we have a core group of experienced players who have tasted success at club and international level. The challenge is to blend that group with the exciting next generation of talent that is emerging. It must be our goal to not only qualify for and compete at the Olympic Games, but to challenge for a medal in 2016. I believe that with hard work, good planning and our best talent being available that we can achieve great things.”
Pero Cameron did not shy away from the fact he too had applied for the top job, but was quick to throw his support behind Henare, a former team mate and fellow assistant under Nenad Vucinic.
“Of course I was disappointed not to get the job, I wouldn’t be human if I wasn’t. But I am ready to throw my support completely behind Paul and congratulate him on securing the Head Coaching role, I was humbled when asked to work with Paul and look forward to helping deliver more great results for our sport and our nation on the international stage.”
30 year old Australia based Kereama meanwhile echoed similar sentiments to Henare as to the growing talent pool emerging in the women’s game.
“I am very humbled to be given the honour of leading the Tall Ferns programme again. We are transitioning into a very exciting time for basketball with the depth of talent we have playing basketball globally.”
“We expect to have a great mix of our collegiate players that are coming through the NCAA system in America available for selection and a good mix of professional players competing in the WNBL and various leagues worldwide. We will also be harnessing our best New Zealand based talent out of our WBC competition.”
“Our major goal over the next fifteen months is to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympics. There are only two options for us, beat Australia at the 2015 FIBA qualifying event or qualify through the FIBA Olympic Qualifying event (Date and location TBC).”
“I am currently working with BBNZ on creating a schedule of camps and tours that will enable all of our best players to participate and be available to represent the Tall Ferns at the next Oceania event.”
Kereama will have a familiar man at his shoulder with the reappointment of Aik Ho, he too is eager to begin work towards Rio.
“I am delighted to be re-appointed with the Tall Ferns programme. It is always a privilege to represent our country and I am looking forward to the campaign this year. We have some exciting players coming through along with some solid veterans, which will give us a great chance against any team in the world.”
The Tall Blacks programme in 2015 is a busy one, with a camp in New Zealand before participation in a four nation tournament in Europe in late July, then on to the Stankovic Cup (China 3 to 8 August), and back for the Oceania Olympic Qualifiers against Australia in August (15th away, 18th home).
The Tall Ferns 2015 programme is also heavily focused on the Oceania Qualifying Series. They are confirmed in the William Jones Cup in Chinese Taipei and BBNZ is in discussions regarding 2-3 other fixtures within New Zealand or Asia. They then play the Opals in Melbourne on August 15 and again in New Zealand on the 17th.
Potter says that they have a strong intention to increase the profile of the Tall Ferns.
“BBNZ is looking to increase its investment in the Tall Ferns as we look to grow the competiveness of the women’s game – we have some serious young talent and BBNZ wants to demonstrate to High Performance Sport that they can be world class and deserving of funding support.”