Tall Ferns head coach, Guy Molloy has today named his squad of 12 for the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup, which takes place in Sydney from 26 June – 2 July.
The team includes: Stella Beck, Tayla Dalton, Penina Davidson, Grace Hunter, Charlisse Leger-Walker, Krystal Leger-Walker, Parris Mason, Esra McGoldrick, Tera Reed, Ritorya Tamilo, Josie Trousell and Tahlia Tupaea.
The squad sees the return of three key players from the 2021 Women’s Asia Cup squad; with Davidson the team’s leading scorer and rebounder (15.4ppg and 8rpg) alongside sisters Charlisse (11ppg) and Krystal Walker-Leger (4apg). Beck, Trousdell and McGoldrick also bring added experience to the Tall Ferns with almost 100 caps between them, while newcomers Reed, Dalton, Hunter and Tamilo all offered glimpses of their talent against Serbia, Poland and Turkey in the New Zealand’s recent tour of Europe.
In addition, both Mason and Tupaea will make their Tall Ferns debuts in Sydney; Tahlia set wear the black jersey for the first time after previously playing for Australia at age group level – the guard also earning MVP honours in the inaugural Tauihi season in 2022. Parris was part of the Tall Ferns development squad last October, playing in four friendly games against Melbourne-based WNBL teams.
Head coach Guy Molloy says that this squad represents a new era for the Tall Ferns.
“The Tall Ferns programme took a few body blows during the Covid years, but I’m really excited by our squad; this is an excellent Tall Ferns team for now and the Asia Cup in front of us,” says Molloy.
“I’m also really excited for the fresh faces and the young, athletic talent we’re bringing into this group, I think it’s the Tall Ferns team of the future as well.”
“That trio of Penina, Charlisse and Krystal are all key to this squad, and on top of that bringing back the experience of Stella Beck is an important addition – as is the new addition to the squad of Tahlia [Tupaea], who will give us a different a different dimension of player that we probably haven’t had before. And having Josie Trousdell back is key; the last Asia Cup she played in was 2017 and we’ll count on her as a defensive presence.
“So when we looked at these additions to the group – as well as another player who had a successful stint in Europe as a pro in Tera Reed – they make us a stronger unit from that last Asia Cup. These players, who weren’t at the last Asia Cup, have the potential to really shine for us.”
Molloy is excited by the injection of youth, energy and height into this year’s squad.
“Tayla Dalton, Grace Hunter and the other young ones we’ve got in there, there’s a real energy factor about them. We’re obviously aware of the step up in speed playing internationally – where we’re having to defend a lot of quick players – so increased athleticism was really important for us and Tayla and Grace are good examples of that, players who are active and good defenders who can keep their player in front of them.
“And looking at our bigs, the addition of exciting young players like Parris Mason, Esra McGoldrick and 17-year-old Ritorya Tamilo; they give us great height and wingspan, this is a taller team than we had two years ago and a more athletic team. So the addition of these players is really important.”
Molloy says that beyond a top four finish at the Asia Cup – which brings them one step closer to a berth in the 2024 Paris Olympics – the Tall Ferns programme has other key goals to achieve.
“We were beginning to come up the world rankings in 2019 and were unlucky [at that time] not to qualify for the Olympics. To me that was a pinnacle moment four years ago around our culture and style of play; the last four years for us have been tough as we’ve had to ride through Covid and some of our top players have dropped off along the way.
“I’m confident we’re on our way back up again and that’s what this Asia Cup squad is all about; it’s a re-establishment of the Tall Ferns culture and the way we want to represent New Zealand. The re-emergence of the game style that we want; which is probably closer to our 2019 style and far removed from where we were in 2021.”
The Tall Ferns head to Sydney on 22 June as one of eight countries participating in the FIBA Asia Women’s Cup, facing Korea, China and Lebanon in the Group stage from 26 June. Find out more at www.fiba.basketball/womensasiacup/2023
Tall Ferns FIBA Women’s Asia Cup 2023 Squad:
Stella Beck, 56 caps
Tayla Dalton, 5 caps
Penina Davidson, 57 caps
Grace Hunter, 5 caps
Charlisse Leger-Walker, 36 caps
Krystal Leger-Walker, 23 caps
Parris Mason, 0 caps
Esra McGoldrick, 7 caps
Tera Reed, 11 caps
Ritorya Tamilo, 4 caps
Josie Trousdell, 36 caps
Tahlia Tupaea, 0 caps