Tall Blacks Name Olympic Qualifiers Squad; Schedule Announced

Head coach Pero Cameron has today named an extended squad of 19 men’s national team athletes in contention for the Tall Black’s upcoming FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Greece – with a place at the Paris Olympics 2024 on the line.

The 14 athletes in the Tall Black’s extended squad for the FIBA Olympic Qualifiers are:

Flynn Cameron, Finn Delany, Ben Gold, Hyrum Harris, Tyrell Harrison, Shea Ili, Izayah Le’Afa, Jordan Ngatai, Ethan Rusbatch, Reuben Te Rangi, Tom Vodanovich, Sam Waardenburg, Corey Webster and Yanni Wetzell.

In addition, five non-travelling reserves have been named as Taylor Britt, Dan Fotu, Sam Timmins, Taine Murray and Sam Mennenga. These players will be available for selection into the final squad in the event of injury or other unavailability.

The squad of 14 will first travel to Helsinki, Finland on 20 June to compete in a pair of friendly games against top-level European competition; facing world #20 ranked Finland on 26 June, followed by world #15 ranked Poland on 29 June.

Following this, a final Tall Blacks squad of 12 will travel to Piraeus, Greece from 2-7 July 2024 to participate in one of four Olympic Qualifying Tournaments being run by FIBA. Joining New Zealand in this tournament will be opponents Slovenia, Croatia, Greece, Egypt and Dominican Republic – with the team who finishes first earning a ticket to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France.

If the Tall Blacks are able to win this qualifying tournament, they would progress to the Olympics for the first time in 20 years; their last appearance coming at the Athens Games back in 2004.

Experienced Squad Named

The extended squad of 14 features a multitude of proven performers on the basketball world stage. Eight core players return from the FIBA World Cup team that competed in the Philippines last August, finishing with a 2-3 record to secure entry into this FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Webster comes in with 93 Tall Blacks games under his belt – including two electrifying World Cup campaigns – and is a contender to crack the Centurion club by end of year. Meanwhile the trio of Harrison, Rusbatch and Vodanovich all suited up for the Tall Blacks at the Asia Cup Qualifiers in February this year, while Sam Waardenburg made his national team debut in last February against Saudi Arabia. Even the youngest player in the extended squad, 21-year-old Ben Gold, has played six games in the black jersey for New Zealand.

“To be able to go to the Olympics is every kid’s dream”

Shea Ili, who was a standout performer for the Tall Blacks at last year’s FIBA World Cup, says that making an Olympic squad is something he has long aspired to.

“Our main goal is to try and make the Olympics and as a team we’ll be going out to do our absolute best; for me the one thing I’ve always wanted in my career is go to an Olympics and do my family – and our country – proud,” says Ili.

“As a team we’ve always shown that we when we step foot on that court, we’re capable of beating any opponent we’re up against; but it’s about taking that next step and being able to win the games we need to win to make it through.”

Ili says that the Tall Blacks will take on some ‘tough’ competition at the Olympic Qualifiers in July.

“We’ll be going up against some big powerhouses in Slovenia and Croatia in group play, and if we can make it through to the crossover we’ll face Greece or another team. So we’ll focus on being able to make it through and take that next step; we can’t just be happy with playing well – we have to make it through to the next stage, do ourselves proud and make the Olympics.

“To be able to go to the Olympics is every kid’s dream, if we can fulfil that, that’ll be awesome.”


Tall Blacks Travelling Squad of 14 – FIBA Olympic Qualifiers 2024

Flynn Cameron, Taranaki Airs / Melbourne United

Finn Delany, Casademont Zaragoza / BNZ Breakers

Ben Gold, Marquette University

Hyrum Harris, Wellington Saints / Perth Wildcats

Tyrell Harrison, Southern Districts Spartans / Brisbane Bullets

Shea Ili, Geelong United / Melbourne United

Izayah Le’Afa, Wellington Saints / Sydney Kings

Jordan Ngatai, Hawkes Bay Hawks

Ethan Rusbatch, Franklin Bulls

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

Tom Vodanovich, Auckland Tuatara

Sam Waardenburg, Cairns Taipans

Corey Webster, Auckland Tuatara / Perth Wildcats

Yanni Wetzell, Alba Berlin


Non-Travelling Reserves

Taylor Britt, Canterbury Rams

Dan Fotu, Nelson Giants / NZ Breakers

Sam Mennenga, AS Karditsas / NZ Breakers

Taine Murray, Virginia Cavaliers

Sam Timmins, Franklin Bulls / Sydney Kings


Tall Blacks Schedule

Pre-OQT Friendly Games

NZL vs Finland – time TBC, Wed 26 June

NZL vs Poland – time TBC, Sat 29 June

FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament

Croatia vs NZL – 2.30am NZT, Thu 4 July

NZL vs Slovenia – 2.30am NZT, Fri 5 July