Tall Ferns Coach Kennedy Kereama has named an extended squad to trial for places in the roster to compete in the FIBA Oceania Championship Series against Australia in August, with the winner earning a place at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Kereama has named 23 of the 25 players to attend a four-day camp in Auckland from the 16 to the 19 July, with the final two to be added following this weekend’s final round of the Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC) in Poririua. Following the trial, a 12-player roster will then be named to further prepare for the Oceania Championship Series against Australia in Melbourne and Tauranga in August. CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS TO THE TAURANGA GAME
Kereama is enthused by the response from those invited to be part of the programme this year.
“I believe this will be an exciting mix of players with most of our best making themselves available. I think with this group there will be some selection issues for the coaching staff, which is a good problem to have for us. All of these players have performed well at either WBC, within our National Junior programme or in various leagues around the world.”
The Tall Ferns Head Coach is delighted at the return of some big names to the programme, players who will bring vital experience to what has been a youthful roster in recent times.
“I am pleased to announce that four of our 2008 Olympians will be coming into camp with Natalie Taylor, Micaela Cocks, Lisa Wallbutton and Jillian Harmon all available for this Oceania series. This combination will give us some much needed experience and leadership on court as well as some scoring threats from different areas on the court. Both Jillian and Micaela have just come off a great WNBL season with Chris Lucas (assistant coach) and it’s great to have them both back in the mix. Natalie Taylor and Lisa Wallbutton come back after taking some time away from International basketball.
“We also will have a number of players that are playing in mixture of state leagues across Australia. Megan Craig will potentially add some much needed size to our team at 6”8, she has been playing in the SBL for the Lakeside Lightning in Perth. Samara Gallaher and Chevannah Paalvast have both been playing in the BigV competition in Victoria and Shannon Perrett has been starting at point guard for the Sandringham Sabres in the SEABL.
“I am also very excited to see the large amount of collegiate players we have coming in and how they have developed over the past year or two. Players like Stella Beck, Penina Davidson, Josie Stockill, Jordan Hunter and Kalani Purcell are a few who have already represented the Ferns at past Oceania events. I am looking forward to seeing what sort of intensity and competition our college players bring to camp. New additions to the Tall Ferns camp environment from college are Tessa Boagni, Alicia Carline, Moengaroa Subtrizki, Georgia Agnew and Jasmine Davis.”
Kereama says that influx of talent will add to those who have been involved in recent years, players who have developed tremendously through that experience.
“The last group is our emerging group that is based here in New Zealand. The programme will welcome back Shea Crotty, Jessica Tuki, Jessica Bygate and Deena Franklin, players who gained experience with the team last year in China and both players performed extremely well on that stage. It was an easy decision to bring them both back to see how they would go against some of our more experienced players in camp. New additions are Morgan Roberts from and Connie Poletti.”
Kereama says his players have a chance to spend plenty of time together in the buildup, to work on the on and off court culture within the team.
“Chemistry will be important for us and the coaching staff will be looking for the right combination of players for our Oceania series. We have the luxury of having almost a month together before we play Australia and this provides a great opportunity to reintroduce everyone back to our Tall Ferns style of play and build on this against quality opposition.”
The door is not shut yet on those that will play in this weekend’s final round of the WBC.
“We have three or four positions still available in the trial and I want to leave those decisions until this weekend to see who performs well and perhaps who puts their hand up for the first time to justify a shot at the national team.”
Tall Ferns Invited to Trial
Micaela Cocks, Townsville Fire (AUS)
Jordan Hunter, Southeast Missouri State & Counties Manukau Lady Hawks
Georgia Agnew, Utah Valley University (USA)
Shea Crotty, Canterbury Wildcats
Stella Beck, Saint Mary’s College of California (USA)
Samara Gallaher, Hume City Broncos (AUS)
Jasmine Davis, University of Wyoming (USA)
Moengaroa Subritzki, University of Maryland Eastern Shore (USA)
Morgan Roberts, Harbour Breeze
Natalie Taylor, Logan Thunder (AUS)
Kalani Purcell, Brigham Young University (USA)
Chevannah Paalvast, Southern Peninsular Sharks (AUS)
Deena Franklin, Harbour Breeze
Jillian Harmon, Townsville Fire and Oceana Otago
Lisa Wallbutton, Willeton Tigers (AUS)
Connie Poletti, Canterbury Wildcats
Jess Bygate, Nelson Sparks
Jess Tuki, Waikato Wizards
Megan Craig, Lakeside Lightning (AUS)
Penina Davidson, University of California (USA)
Alicia Carline, Portland State University (USA)
Tessa Boagni, California State University (USA)
Josie Stockill, Colgate University (USA)
Players selected but unavailable: Antonia Edmondson, Maia Wilson, Erin Rooney, Rhaiah Spooner-Knight, Krystal Leger-Walker.
Once selected the Tall Ferns will stay in camp for a further week, commencing the build up towards the Oceania Series against Australia, with the winner earning entry to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
16-19 July, Selection Camp, South Auckland
20-26 July, Preparation Camp, South Auckland
27-31 July, William Jones Cup, Taiwan
1-11 August, Warm up games, series opposition and venues TBC
15 August, Oceania Series, v Australia, Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne
17 August, OCeania Series, v Australia, ASB Arena, Tauranga