Tall Blacks To Face Jordan In Auckland; Veteran Trio Confirmed

The Tall Blacks will play their second FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifier game in Aotearoa this year, when they take on Jordan at Auckland’s Eventfinda Arena on 29 August – in a re-match against their recent FIBA Asia Cup foes, with several big names already confirmed for the Kiwi squad.

This game will be at the tail-end of a series of internationals for the Tall Blacks this month. The team first assembles in Atsugi, Japan on 16th August for both a preparation camp and a pair of friendly games against a Japan squad, before departing to Dammam in the Middle East to face Saudi Arabia in a FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifier on 25 August.

Following this, the squad returns to New Zealand for a two day camp in Auckland, before facing Jordan on 29 August.

The Tall Blacks have enjoyed a strong 2022 campaign to date with a 9-2 record, going unbeaten in their four FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers this year and winning five out of seven Asia Cup games in Jakarta while utilising a younger squad.

Jordan will be looking for a measure of revenge in this game, after New Zealand earned a hard-fought 83-75 win over them in the recent FIBA Asia Cup to claim bronze; in the process denying Jordan their first Asia Cup medal since 2011. That victory came thanks to a Tall Black fourth-quarter surge, with the Kiwi’s erasing a 15-point third quarter deficit in one of the more memorable comeback performances in recent Tall Blacks history.

Prior to that, the Tall Black’s previous World Cup Asian Qualifier – also their last home game in Auckland – was against Gilas Pilipinas, a 106-60 win in front of a sold-out Eventfinda Stadium crowd.

Tall Blacks Head Coach, Pero Cameron says that he expects a much tougher challenge from Jordan this time around.

“Obviously this game is going to be really tough, we know that. Jordan really pressed us and took it to us in our last game with them, we were able to come out on top but it was just a really tough grind,” says Cameron.

“Both squads were battling fatigue and injuries in that game, and the remaining 8 to 9 players on each side just left it all out there on the floor and gave it their all – both teams really wanted that bronze. It was a tough game and we know this next one will be as well.

“And Jordan traditionally has been a really tough team for us over the past several years; we beat them in New Zealand in 2018 [a 95-69 win in Christchurch] then we went over there and got beaten in their house [a 80-86 loss in Amman in 2019], so there’s some history there. We’re all really looking forward to this challenge.”

Cameron says that although the squad has yet to be finalised, he expects it to be a highly competitive team with plenty of Tall Blacks experience.

“It’s a busy year of basketball for us and there’s a lot going on – and it’s all prep for the FIBA World Cup 2023 for the coaches and players. Some of the squad will be new, others will be experienced in this setting, we’ve just got to make sure that the squad is ready, committed, and that they wear the black singlet with pride and give it their all.”

Although the Tall Blacks squad will be announced at a later date, Cameron is happy to confirm the presence of a few veterans who will suit up against Jordan.

Shea Ili, Reuben Te Rangi and Isaac Fotu, these guys all put their hands up early to be part of this squad and that’s great – they’re got almost 170 caps between them and they’re impactful players and leaders for this team, they’re guys you want to go to battle with.”

Although playing Jordan at home looms large for the Kiwis, Cameron’s initial focus will be on the games which are first on the Tall Black’s schedule – namely Japan and Saudi Arabia; the latter another game which helps New Zealand qualify for the 2023 World Cup, but all of these games giving the squad much-needed international experience against quality teams.

“When it comes time to face Jordan, we’ll be ready for them; they were a great team at the Asia Cup and they’ve got some good players – but our focus for now is on our preparation camp, facing Japan and then taking on Saudi Arabia.”

The Tall Blacks take on Jordan in Window 4 of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, at Eventfinda Stadium in Auckland from 7pm on Monday 29 August.

Tickets available here at Eventfinda.

Find out more at www.fiba.basketball/basketballworldcup/2023/asian-qualifiers