Ahead of the Commonwealth Games new Tall Ferns coach Guy Molloy has identified a group of athletes from which he will select his team of 12 players for the April event.
To help narrow down the squad a training camp is being held in Melbourne this coming weekend (February 16-18).
All of the players that attended the 2017 Asia Cup in Bangalore last July have been named except Jillian Harmon. The experienced power forward is unavailable due to Italian League commitments for her club Napoli.
One of the New Zealand domiciled players named is 16-year old Charlisse Leger-Walker. The teenage guard is a Year 12 student at St Peter’s School, Cambridge who impressed at last year’s Tall Ferns trial and gets another chance to display her credentials in Melbourne.
Former Tall Fern Jordan Hunter gets the opportunity to push for selection again having missed the whole of the 2017 international campaign after incurring an ACL injury in the opening round of the Women’s Basketball Championship in Auckland last May.
The only uncapped players named other than Leger-Walker are England based forward Tea Charlton and former New Plymouth Girls High standout Kayla Manuirirangi now a sophmore at Tulane University, USA.
Molloy will have a number of experienced Australian Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) players to call upon including Kalani Purcell and Rebecca Ott who play for his Melbourne Boomers club side.
Micaela Cocks (Townsville Fire), Toni Farnworth (Perth Lynx) and Chevannah Paalvast (Canberra Capitals) are the other current WNBL payers
Cocks, a three-time WNBL championship winner with Townsville is striving to attend her second Commonwealth Games tournament. She won a silver medal with the national team at the 2006 Games in Melbourne – the last time basketball was included in the four-yearly event.
Cocks is also a veteran of the 2008 Beijing Olympics campaign as is another senior member of the squad, Natalie Taylor.
Molloy is excited about the talent at his disposal and is looking forward to building the team and the culture for the Commonwealth Games and beyond.
“We have a terrific group of senior players that have been Tall Ferns campaigners for some time now. Then there is an emerging group in the US college system or just coming out. It is a really interesting blend for me. To see young players like Zara Jillings and Charlisse Leger-Walker come onto the scene is really exciting.
“The mission is to develop the New Zealand team into one of the top teams in the FIBA Asia qualification zone and we want to make a fast start at the Commonwealth Games also. I want to get off to a great start and we want to hit that tournament full steam.” Molloy added.
Molloy said he was looking forward to the challenge, with the Games less than two months away.
“It is a great honour to be named the Head Coach of the Tall Ferns. Last year, I saw first-hand how dedicated and hard-working the Tall Ferns players and staff were. They competed fiercely every day, whether it was a training session or a match.”
Following the training camp it is expected the team selected for the Commonwealth Games taking place in Cairns and on the Gold Coast will be named in early March. The Tall Ferns open their Commonwealth Games campaign with a game against Malaysia on April 5th in Cairns.
Players named in the extended training squad:
Georgia Agnew (Harbour Breeze, NZ)
Stella Beck (St Mary’s College, California, USA)
Jacinta Beckley (Seattle University, USA)
Brooke Blair (Idaho State University, USA)
Jess Bygate (Sandringham Sabres, Australia)
Tea Charlton (Nottingham Wildcats, England
Micaela Cocks (Townsville Fire, Australia)
Penina Davidson (University of California Berkeley, USA)
Toni Farnworth (Perth Lynx, Australia)
Deena Franklin (Harbour Heat, NZ)
Jordan Hunter (Sturt Sabres, Australia)
Zara Jillings (Fordham University, USA)
Charlisse Leger-Walker (Waikato Wizards/St Peter’s School, Cambridge)
Krystal Leger-Walker (University of Northern Colorado, USA)
Kayla Manuirirangi (Tulane University, USA)
Katelin Noyer (Fresno State University, USA)
Rebecca Ott (Melbourne Boomers, Australia)
Chevannah Paalvast (Canberra Capitals, Australia)
Kalani Purcell (Melbourne Boomers, Australia)
Erin Rooney (Troistorrents, Switzerland)
Josie Stockill (Sunbury Jets, Australia)
Natalie Taylor (Brisbane Spartans, Australia)