Basketball is the hottest ticket in town, with the MBO Tall Blacks verses China at Spark Arena, set to tip-off at 3pm.

This will be the largest recorded live-crowd to surround a basketball court and Head Coach Paul Henare says the team want to do the country proud.

“Knowing that we’re playing in front of the biggest home crowd in the history of New Zealand basketball as the Tall Blacks is pretty special. As a team, we really appreciate that everyone is coming out to support us, probably some China fans in there as well, so it will make for an awesome occasion.

“We just want the fans to come out and be vocal, and get behind our boys, because every little bit counts,” said Henare this morning.

Chief Executive of Basketball New Zealand, Iain Potter, says this game is a great celebration for not only New Zealand, but also for international basketball.

“It’s another new high for New Zealand basketball, setting a record attendance for an international game in New Zealand. But let’s not forget that it’s not only those lucky enough to have a ticket that will see it, but the live broadcast will be watched by tens of millions in China, as well as many other countries around the world. This is a big international game and we are hosting it right here, in New Zealand,” said Mr Potter.

Chairman of the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup Organising Committee, Burton Shipley, agreed that this is likely to be one of the biggest ‘brand New Zealand’ viewed games this year.

“In the Peoples Republic of China, the game will be broadcast by CCTV, which is the predominant state television broadcaster and has an enormous reach,” said Shipley. “FIBA’s media partnership with Tencent will add to that viewership significantly,” said Shipley this morning.

According to Tencent’s website, their sport channel has a subscriber base of 33 million people. During the NBA playoffs they had an incredible total of 2.9 billion video views.

Back home in New Zealand, Maori Television will televise the game free to air. Coach Henare says Maori TV’s support of the team has been tremendous with the TU KAHA series being broadcast and the live coverage of their home and away games.

“If you’re unlucky enough to miss out on those tickets, to be able to watch it at home is great. Talking to my family today, they are going to be watching from home. We’re going to have a lot of people watching with great interest. Hopefully we have a really good game to reward and show our support of the fans who are supporting us,” said Henare.

Henare added that the team’s haka is also part of the connection with the New Zealand people, which is performed with the people of Aotearoa in their hearts and minds.

“The bond between our team and the people of New Zealand was made clear with the joining of two groups of people when we did the haka in Rotorua. We get to do this all around the world, but to be able to do it at home in front of the fans is very special,” said Henare.