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NZL - Tall Blacks travel with confidence to Asia

7. Mika VUKONA (New Zealand)
Mika Vukona (NZL) - 2013 FIBA Oceania Championship

SEOUL (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - The New Zealand Tall Blacks have travelled to the Far East to continue their preparations for the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

With 14 players in tow, coach Nenad Vucinic will be hoping that his squad can be competitive in friendlies in Korea and China, and then Lithuania and Serbia.

The team will arrive in Bilbao, Spain, for their Group C campaign at the World Cup with their first game against Turkey on 30 August.

The Kiwis will also square off against the USA, Ukraine, Finland, the Dominican Republic in the opening phase of the competition.

Veteran forward Mika Vukona is optimistic about the travels, and the team' chances in Spain.

"We are looking forward to it," he said. "It's been a great build-up against Korea in the Burger King Series but the boys are getting a bit edgy.

"They just want to start the campaign on the road now.

"Looking at the timetable and the schedule, it should be a good build-up, with plenty of games with breaks in between and that is what is needed."

Vucinic was encouraged with the team's performances in both training and warm-up games in New Zealand before their trip to the Far East.

They prevailed in two of the three games, although a setback came in a narrow defeat to Korea when center Alex Pledger got hurt to leave his World Cup in doubt.

He is not among the 14 players to have travelled to Asia.

Vucinic has remained positive.

"We have had really good preparation with weeks of playing and training together," Vucinic said.

"The Burger King Series against Korea was very good preparation for us and now we are going to Korea to play them at their place, with their referees.

"It is going to be tough and challenging for us, but all our preparation is about challenges so we can get in the best possible shape, mental and physical, for the World Cup.

"We do have a lot of travel coming up but the good thing about it is we stay in one place for at least five or six days which is good as we can settle in, do some training and play some games.

"The tour that Basketball NZ has put together for us is very good."