Basketball New Zealand has today confirmed that the current Tall Blacks coaching staff will have their contracts extended by 12 months to cover the postponed Tokyo Olympic Games programme, in a move that will also include the planned November and February Asia Cup qualifying windows.

Head Coach Pero Cameron and assistant coaches Ross McMains, Mike Fitchett and Judd Flavell were on contracts taking them through until post the Tokyo campaign, but with the games postponed until 2021, Basketball New Zealand CEO Iain Potter has acted quickly to ensure continuity and stability in these most uncertain times.

“We are working our way through unprecedented times as a nation and globally as we combat the effects of COVID-19, but in amongst that we must continue to plan and reassure our stakeholders and in this case our players that we will eventually get back to some sort of ‘normal’,” said Potter.

“We were very happy to move quickly to ratify this recommendation from our High Performance Director Leonard King and I am delighted to say that discussions with Pero and his coaching team have also proved positive, allowing us to move forward with certainty.”

The move will see Cameron and his coaching team oversee New Zealand in action in the following windows and events:

  • November 2020 – Asia Cup qualifying, both games in New Zealand
  • February 2021 – Asia Cup qualifying, one game in New Zealand and one away
  • June 2021 – Olympic Games qualifying tournament, Serbia
  • July/August 2021 – Tokyo Olympic Games, subject to qualification

It has been a strong start to his coaching tenure, with Cameron taking charge for the first time in the recent Asia Cup qualifying wins over Australia and Guam in February, with the win in Brisbane the first over Aussie in 12 years.

Cameron is delighted to have the endorsement of Basketball New Zealand as he looks to achieve something very special with this group over the next 15 months.

“Four years ago, under Paulie’s (Henare) leadership we talked as a group about Tokyo being the ultimate goal, with the 2019 World Champs a pinnacle event in its own right, but also leading to Tokyo. Nothing has changed in that sense under my watch, the Olympics is such a tough event to qualify for and with only 12 teams there, the spotlight of the whole of the nation is well and truly on the team and the sport with the whole of the nation .

“Right now, it is difficult to focus on what the Olympics will look like as we all just try and defeat this virus and be safe with our families and in our communities. But recent announcements from FIBA on the back of the Olympics being postponed give us some certainty in our planning and with my role and that of my assistants being confirmed for another 15 months, we can all get on with the job of giving ourselves the best shot at qualifying for the games, and along the way cementing our place at the 2021 Asia Cup.”

Isaac Fotu is one who faces uncertainty more than most, with his career to date being in Europe the power forward is currently bunkered down in his family bubble on the North Shore in Auckland not knowing where and when he might next venture at club level. This news and the recent schedule released by FIBA at least gives the 26-year-old certainty around his international commitments.

“This is great news; it gives us some security and stability. We have worked with these coaches a lot in the last few years, we know them, we know our jobs under them, and they all understand and foster the Tall Blacks culture within our group.

“I am personally excited to have another 12 months at least with these coaches, I wasn’t in the last window so missed those wins, but I am excited to work under PC as a Head Coach with all he has done for New Zealand basketball and the knowledge he brings.

“The assistants are all vital to our success, Ross with his basketball IQ, and Fitchy and Judd who are obviously amongst the best coaches in New Zealand but importantly they are all coaches that we know and who know us and the systems we play.

“All of this gives us more time to prepare and get better as a group. We can get more comfortable with PC as Head Coach and put more into our ongoing preparation. I am excited and I know this will only lead to even more exciting times for the team and Basketball New Zealand.”

While three assistant coaches have been contracted to work with Cameron, each FIBA window will see just two assistant coaches named to the team, with Cameron also having a wider pool of coaches to call upon at any given time and subject to individual availability and circumstance.