YINCHUAN (FIBA Oceania Championship/FIBA Basketball World Cup) - Nothing brings a smile to the face of a coach like an emerging talent who shows that he's got what it takes to one day play at the highest level of international basketball.
New Zealand Tall Blacks coach Nenad Vucinic didn't hide his pleasure when discussing the performances of five 'rookies' in a 79-67 friendly defeat to China in Yinchuan.
Teenagers Jack Salt and Reuben Te Rangi not only made their Tall Blacks bows but were in the starting five.
Brook Ruscoe, Izayah Mauriohooho Le'Afa and Jordan Ngata also got played in Wednesday night's game.
"There were many, many positives," Vucinic said. "All five of our rookies proved they can play at international level.
"They're young and they have a long way to go, but you can immediately see their mental ability and also the talent that goes with that.
"That is needed at this level."
A player with a lot of experience, guard Corey Webster, led the Tall Blacks with 19 points.
New Zealand had a 13-point advantage in the third quarter but weren't able to hold off the Chinese, who were warming up for the FIBA Asia Championship.
Vucinic will coach the Tall Blacks at the FIBA Oceania Championship next month in Auckland against Australia.
The Boomers and Tall Blacks will qualify for next year's FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain by taking part in their zone championship.
Now is the time to impress for the youngsters who are hoping to have a shot of making the Tall Black team, if not by next year, then certainly by 2016 when the country hopes to be at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.