Sky Sport Tall Ferns Head Coach Guy Molloy has named a training squad of 19 players ahead of the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup, scheduled for 27 September – 3 October.
The event will now be hosted in Amman, the Capital of Jordan, due to the COVID-19 in the previous host country of India.
Molloy says the ultimate goal is to qualify for the 12-team FIBA Women’s World Cup being held in Sydney in September and October 2022, and the Asia Cup plays a big part.
“There is a two-step qualification for Sydney with the Asia Cup in September and October, which is the first qualifying event that we need to select a team for.”
Molloy says the Tall Ferns longlist of talent has grown significantly in recent years, which is exciting progress for our national women’s basketball team.
“I am most excited about this squad because of its depth. When I started coaching the Tall Ferns in early 2018, we were struggling to get a competitive squad together for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
“Now we’ve selected a competitive squad of 18 from over 30 initial candidates and that’s without a large input from the American College group due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“We’ve come a long way to get ourselves out of the middle pack of teams in FIBA’s Asia Zone, but we still have some way to go before challenging the big nations of Australia, China and Japan. Increased competition for spots is a great way to start this journey.”
The last time the Tall Ferns played test matches was in November 2019, when the FIBA Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament was held in Auckland. Eleven of the players that appeared at that event are named in Molloy’s extended squad including Tessa Boagni and Micaela Cocks who have both recently returned to playing after becoming first-time mothers.
Cocks is the most capped Tall Fern of all-time with 116 international appearances to her name and, like Toni Farnworth, has played on the national team for 12 years.
The three uncapped players in the squad are Ash Kelman-Poto (Harbour Breeze), Lauryn Hippolite (Canterbury Wildcats) and Australia based Ashley Taia.
Molloy is excited about the potential of all three with Ashley Taia, one of nine Australian based players named in the squad, the least well-known to New Zealand fans.
After schooling in Brisbane she played three-years at Indiana State University playing 79 games for the Sycamores. Since graduating in 2018 Taia has played professionally in Australia.
“Ashley is a wing player who plays physically at both ends and can really shoot the ball. She is a star performer for Logan Thunder in the NBL1 competition and has had Australian WNBL experience with Adelaide Lightning and Canberra Capitals,” said Molloy.
“Lauryn Hippolite is a 175cm guard who has burst on the scene with Canterbury Wildcats. She is a crafty left-hander with excellent shooting range and I expect she can make her presence felt in coming years for the Ferns.
“Ash Kelman-Poto had a strong camp recently in Auckland and although she is battling a chronic ankle injury at the moment, I like the physicality she brings to the team.”
Kelman-Poto was a key member of the Harbour Breeze 2020 Sal’s NBL Championship winning team. She was named Grand Final MVP after an 18 points, 14 rebounds and 6 steals haul in the final against Waikato Wizards, while also named to the NBL All-Star Five.
Hippolite is currently on a basketball scholarship at Lincoln University, but in contrast she had a seriously disjointed 2020 NBL season. The Wildcats guard was the leading scorer at the inaugural NBL Schick 3×3 Cup last November, but a calf injury impeded her NBL campaign meaning she could only play three games.
The Nelsonian played alongside Charlisse Leger-Walker on the New Zealand team that won silver at the 2017 FIBA Oceania Championships in Guam averaging 9.6 points per game.
Whilst Leger-Walker already has 19 caps to her name and sister Krystal 11, the Washington State University Cougars duo are yet to play together for the Tall Ferns.
Sky Sport New Zealand Tall Ferns Extended Squad:
- Stella Beck – Melbourne Boomers
- Brooke Blair – Brisbane Capitals
- Tessa Boagni – Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats
- Micaela Cocks – Townsville Heat/ Platinum Homes Harbour Breeze
- Penina Davidson – Melbourne Boomers/Nunawading Spectres
- Toni Farnworth – Melbourne Boomers/Ringwood Hawks
- Ella Fotu – Platinum Homes Harbour Breeze
- Mary Goulding – Bendigo Spirit/East Perth Eagles
- Lauryn Hippolite – Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats
- Ash Karaitiana – Melbourne Boomers/Southern District Spartans
- Ash Kelman-Poto – Platinum Homes Harbour Breeze
- Charlisse Leger-Walker – Washington State University
- Krystal Leger-Walker – Washington State University
- Esra McGoldrick – Waikato Wizards
- Katelin Noyer – ETCO Auckland Dream
- Chevannah Paalvast – Bendigo Spirit/Logan Thunder
- Kalani Purcell – Sydney Uni Flames/Southern District Spartans
- Zoe Richards – Otago Gold Rush/Rockingham Flames
- Ashley Taia – Canberra Capitals/Logan Thunder
Molloy says one of the key selection priorities is now the fitness and form of players. The squad will be trimmed to 12 ahead of travelling to the Asia Cup.