14 Jun 2018

No Adams for Tall Blacks

11:21 am on 14 June 2018

New Zealand basketball fans will have to wait to see NBA star Steven Adams play for the Tall Blacks, if he ever does, after he made himself unavailable for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

Steven Adams.

Steven Adams. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Also unavailable for the clashes with Hong Kong in Rotorua on June 28 and China in Auckland on July 1 are Alex Pledger, Tai Webster (NBA camp) and several players with American College study commitments.

Corey Webster's status is yet to be confirmed as Basketball New Zealand seeks a release from his team in China for the duration of the FIBA Window.

Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare has named 20 players to assemble in Wellington for a four-day camp, ahead of a 12-player roster being named for the upcoming FIBA World Cup Qualifying matches.

Headlining the group are experienced campaigners in Mika Vukona, Tom Abercrombie, Rob Loe, Isaac Fotu, Jarrod Kenny, Reuben Te Rangi, Jordan Ngatai, and Finn Delany with all except Fotu winning bronze at the recent Commonwealth Games.

"This is always an exciting time, to work through a list of players in contention for the MBO Tall Blacks, some for the upcoming window, while others might have to be a little more patient, this is nonetheless a great opportunity to expose them to the Tall Blacks culture and way of doing things," said Henare.

"We have an exciting group of very talented players who are capable of mixing it with the best teams in the world. This is a great chance to see some of the players we know, as well as bring in some of the US based talent from their American Colleges and gauge their progress."

Also in the mix from that 2018 Gold Coast Games roster are Tohi Smith-Milner, Ethan Rusbatch and Derone Raukawa, all of whom are currently playing in the New Zealand NBL.

There is room for some of the next generation as well, with opportunities given to 17-year-old Nelson product Max Darling (Canterbury Rams) and Rosmini College guard Kruz Perrot-Hunt, as both teenagers are given the chance to experience Tall Blacks culture for the first time.

Shea Ili (Wellington Saints) will miss the camp while attending an NBA mini-camp with the Dallas Mavericks, but the point guard will return in time to be available for the two FIBA World Cup Qualifying Games.

The camp and window present an opportunity for one of New Zealand's leading young prospects to remind local fans of his progress over the past four years at the University of Virginia, with 6 foot 10 centre Jack Salt back in the fold for the first time since his debut as a 17-year-old just over four years ago.

Others joining from their respective American College programmes are Tobias Cameron, Jackson Stent and Isaac Letoa, as they take up the opportunity during summer break in the States.