Almost a week after hosting the biggest Kiwi basketball attendance ever, when 8431 people packed Spark Arena on Sunday to watch the MBO Tall Blacks play China, Basketball New Zealand is announcing the next venues for the FIBA World Cup Qualifying series.
In cooperation with the Christchurch City Council, the Tall Blacks will play Jordan at Horncastle Arena, Christchurch, on Thursday 29 November.
Basketball New Zealand’s Chief Executive, Iain Potter, says the team have been eager to play in Christchurch for some time. He added that Horncastle Arena had been accepted after it was upgraded to meet FIBA-set standards.
“The FIBA World Cup Qualifiers are a big deal. To host one of these games is not straight forward, but the Christchurch City Council was very professional in meeting FIBA’s expectations. Those include specified score boards, shot clocks and backstop units. They have touched up Horncastle to be a great venue to play basketball and thanks to the CCC, we can bring meaningful international basketball tests to Canterbury,” says Mr Potter.
This World Cup Qualifier will be a top of the tables clash. Jordan finished top of Pool C in Round One of qualifying, while the Tall Blacks finished top of Pool A. Arguably this will be the Tall Blacks toughest home game, especially when Jordan’s fans are renowned for their feverish support, so expect to see Jordanian flags flying in Christchurch that week.
“Yes the teams in that region of the world are fanatically supported, Lebanon and Jordan especially. The Cantabrians are great supporters of New Zealand sport too. There’s no doubt there’s a thirst for basketball in Christchurch. You only have to look at the Canterbury Rams who sold out Horncastle last month, which was the largest NBL audience ever with 6000 people. The Canterbury Basketball Association and the Mainland Eagles are doing great things with the local community and participation is thriving there. So we know this will be a great occasion,” said Mr Potter today.
The Canterbury Rams General Manager, Caleb Harrison, agrees that the Tall Blacks will be welcomed into town with open arms and is positive the locals will rally around their national side.
“We are excited to have the Tall Blacks playing in Christchurch for the first time since 2004. Having a World Cup Qualifier broadcast all over Asia is a huge event not only for basketball in Canterbury, but the whole city. The Rams game played at Horncastle Arena this year was sold out and a historical night with the largest crowd in NBL history. We expect the Tall Blacks game in Christchurch to also be a sell out as popularity in basketball has grown hugely here. As far as new records go, our goal will be to take the title for the loudest crowd ever to experience a basketball game in New Zealand,” said Harrison today.
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says she’s thrilled that the Council and Basketball New Zealand had worked collaboratively to meet FIBA’s requirements.
“This is such wonderful news for the city and for basketball enthusiasts. We love our sport here in Canterbury and I know sports lovers will get along to Horncastle Arena to support the Tall Blacks in their World Cup Qualifying game.
“It really shows what can happen when two organisations work together with a ‘can do’ attitude to ensure Horncastle Arena meets the standard required of an international sporting event. This is definitely a ‘win-win’ situation for our city,” says the Mayor.
Canterbury Basketball Chief Executive Paul Duggan says this game represents a paradigm shift for sport in the South Island.
“Fans will flock to Christchurch for an international event rather than Christchurch people having to travel away. Basketball is the most popular high school sport in Canterbury, and it will be fantastic for players and fans to see a game of this calibre live and up-close,” said Duggan.
The game in Christchurch will be one of three home World Cup Qualifying games for the Tall Blacks. The other two venues for the games, against Lebanon on 17 September and Syria on 2 December, will be released next week.
All of the Tall Blacks World Cup Qualifying Games will be broadcast by Maori Television, which is also producing a webisode series call Tū Kaha on maoritelevision.com, which gives a behind the scenes glimpse of the Tall Blacks team.
MBO Tall Blacks FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, ROUND TWO
Date | Opponents | Home/Away
• 13 Sep 2018 vs Syria. AWAY
• 17 Sep 2018 vs Lebanon. HOME (VENUE TBA)
• 29 Nov 2018, Jordan in Horncastle Arena Christchurch
• 2 Dec 2018, vs Syria, HOME (VENUE TBA).
• 22 Feb 2019 vs Lebanon AWAY
• 25 Feb 2019 vs Jordan AWAY
ROUND ONE RESULTS:
• 23 Nov 2017 vs Korea at TSB Bank Arena, Wellington. Result: Tall Blacks lost 80-86
• 26 Nov 2017 vs Hong Kong at Southourn Stadium, Hong Kong. Result: Tall Blacks won 133-74
• 23 Feb 2018 vs China at Dongguan Basketball Centre, China. Result: Tall Blacks won 82-73
• 26 Feb 2018 vs Korea at Jamsil Gymnasium, Seoul, South Korea. Result: Tall Blacks won 93-84
• 28 Jun 2018 vs Hong Kong at Energy Events Centre, Rotorua. Tall Blacks won 124-65
• 1 Jul 2018 vs China vs Spark Arena, Auckland. Tall Blacks won 67-57