Tall Blacks head coach, Pero Cameron has announced an initial squad of 24 players in contention to play Saudi Arabia and Lebanon in New Zealand later this month.
The list is headlined by eight veterans with at least 50 Tall Black caps to their name, including Isaac Fotu, Shea Ili, Rob Loe, Jordan Ngatai, Tohi Smith-Milner, Reuben Te Rangi, Corey Webster and Tai Webster. From this list both Corey Webster (93 caps) and Rob Loe (90 caps) have a chance to crack the Tall Blacks Centurion club this year, should they make New Zealand’s FIBA World Cup squad for August.
A pair of siblings feature on this list, with Isaac and Dan Fotu last playing together on the Tall Blacks squad in Feb 2018 for Dan’s national team debut. Tai and Corey Webster – current teammates on the Perth Wildcats – are also in line to play alongside one another in the black singlet for the first time since the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
In all 23 of the 24 players have suited up for the Tall Blacks last year, either as part of the World Cup Qualifiers campaign or the FIBA Asia Cup, with Sam Waardenburg the sole exception; the 23-year-old forward a possibility to make his Tall Blacks debut following a productive first year with the Cairns Taipans.
With 17 of the listed athletes currently playing in the Australian NBL across eight of the 10 teams – including seven on the NZ Breakers roster alone – Tall Blacks head coach Pero Cameron says his final squad of 12 will be defined in part by how deep these players progress in the NBL finals race this month.
“We’ll work over the next few weeks to determine which Aussie NBL-based Kiwis are available for these two games, depending on fitness and how they fare in the finals. We want to roll out a strong squad for both games in front of our home fans, so there’ll be strong competition for these 12 spots – which is great for the team.”
The Tall Blacks play two games in New Zealand later this month, facing Saudi Arabia at Christchurch Arena on Friday 24 February, followed by a clash with rivals Lebanon at Wellington’s TSB Arena on Monday 27 February. Find out more at bbnz.cloud/tickets
Following this, the Tall Blacks will head to Japan, Malaysia and the Philippines in August, as one of 32 teams locked into the FIBA World Cup – basketball’s pinnacle sporting event.
Tall Blacks Squad of 24, Feb 2023
Taylor Britt (14 caps)
Isaac Davidson, NZ Breakers (7 caps)
Shea Ili, Melbourne United (58 caps)
Izayah Le’Afa, NZ Breakers (10 caps)
Alex McNaught, NZ Breakers (2 caps)
Nikau McCullough (3 caps)
Richie Rodger, Taranaki Airs (4 caps)
Corey Webster, Perth Wildcats (93 caps)
Tai Webster, Perth Wildcats (54 caps)
Walter Brown, Tasmania Jackjumpers (1 cap)
Dan Fotu, NZ Breakers (3 caps)
Isaac Fotu, Utsunomiya Brex (68 caps)
Hyrum Harris, Adelaide 36ers & Hawkes Bay Hawkes (6 caps)
Jordan Ngatai, Hawkes Bay Hawkes (64 caps)
Ethan Rusbatch (44 caps)
Reuben Te Rangi, Southeast Melbourne Phoenix (52 caps)
Tom Vodanovich, NZ Breakers & Wellington Saints (9 caps)
Sam Waardenburg, Cairns Taipans (no caps)
Tyrell Harrison, Brisbane Bullets (3 caps)
Jordan Hunt, Hawkes Bay Hawkes (11 caps)
Rob Loe, NZ Breakers & Auckland Tuatara (90 caps)
Anzac Rissetto, Southeast Melbourne Phoenix & Taranaki Airs (2 caps)
Tohi Smith-Milner, Southeast Melbourne Phoenix & Wellington Saints (51 caps)
Sam Timmins, NZ Breakers (2 caps)
Tall Blacks World Cup Qualifier Games, New Zealand
- Tall Blacks vs Saudi Arabia, Christchurch Arena – Friday 24 February
- Tall Blacks vs Lebanon, TSB Arena Wellington – Monday 27 February.
Tickets at bbnz.cloud/tickets