|Host City: Kayseri|
|Host City: Istanbul|
|Host City: Ankara|
|5. Puerto Rico||1/4||6|
|6. Cote d'Ivoire||1/4||6|
|Host City: Izmir|
|3. New Zealand||3/2||8|
|#||Name||P||Height||DOB||Place Of Birth||Club|
|08/01/1982||Sydney, Australia||Wellington Saints, NBL (NZL)|
|20/09/1982||Nelson, New Zealand|
|23/11/1980||North Shore, New Zealand||(ESP)|
|13/05/1982||Suva, Fiji||Nelson Giants, NBL (NZL)|
|25/01/1974||Dunedin, New Zealand||Nelson Giants, NBL (NZL)|
|27/04/1984||Wellington, New Zealand|
|05/07/1987||Auckland, New Zealand||NZ Breakers, NBL (NZL)|
|05/06/1974||Tokoroa, New Zealand||(TUR)|
|20/07/1988||Auckland, New Zealand||Harbour Heat, NBL (NZL)|
|23/10/1977||Port Jefferson, USA|
|28/07/1983||Lower Hutt, New Zealand|
|C||-/-||27/03/1987||Blenheim, New Zealand||Waikato Pistons, NBL (NZL)|
|Min||Minutes played||Tot||Total rebounds||BS||Block Shots|
|%||Shooting percentage||PF||Personal fouls||G||Played Games|
Penney for the young guys…
After a phenomenal rise to basketball prominence in the previous decade, highlighted by a fourth place at the 2002 FIBA World Championship, New Zealand is relying on some veterans to help its young team again threaten the world’s best.
There are few teams in international basketball that execute at the offensive end as well as the New Zealand Tall Blacks. While there is no doubting the talents of Pero Cameron, Sean Marks, Phill Jones, Mark Dickel, Kirk Penney and Dillon Boucher played an enormous role in the Tall Blacks three successive top 10 finishes at world events, just as important were the clinical systems of then-coach Tab Baldwin.
When his extraordinary reign ended following the 2006 FIBA World Championship, Baldwin handed over to long time assistant Nenad Vucinic, ensuring the Tall Blacks’ cutting, high post offence remained one of the National Team’s great strengths. The question now is who is capable of filling the roles within the system well enough to again challenge the world’s hoops powers. No doubt Kirk Penney will continue to lead and inspire his young teammates, but he will need some help.
Just weeks before their first game of the 2010 FIBA World Championship against Lithuania, New Zealand were still sweating on whether long time NBA centre Sean Marks would decide to come out of international retirement for a Turkish swansong.
The good news is that Phill Jones, the second leading scorer at the Athens Olympics, has announced he is returning to the national squad after retiring in 2007, while the legendary Cameron has overcome injury to make the trip to Turkey. Jones will join Kiwi superstar Penney in one of the deadliest perimeter backcourts in the game. Emerging point guard Lindsay Tait heads into the tournament in great form, having claimed grand final MVP honours in the New Zealand NBL, scoring 28 points on a remarkable 11/13 shooting in the deciding game three, and his ability in transition will be a key to getting Jones and Penney open shots.
Add to that trio the athletic prowess of forwards Thomas Abercrombie and Mika Vukona, who torched Australia for 25 points and 12 rebounds in the final game of the FIBA Oceania Championship last year, and the Tall Blacks are starting to piece together a young and competitive outfit.
Enigmatic power forward Craig Bradshaw will be a key to the Tall Blacks frontcourt with his ability to hit from the perimeter and finish above the rim, but unlike in recent years he will have some strong support.
Young 216cm giant Alex Pledger averaged 15.5ppg and 9.5rpg against Australia last year, and his strong board work and automatic mid-range jumper will be a great asset for coach Vucinic, as will mobile power forward Benny ‘BJ’ Anthony. But to seriously challenge fellow Group D teams Lithuania, France and Spain, the young talent appears to need some help from either Cameron or Marks.
Of course, New Zealand fans would point to the fact that virtually no one expected them to make it out of pool play at the 2002 FIBA World Championship, and as far as omens go, the build-up to Turkey has some similarities to 2002. In the 2001 FIBA Oceania Championship the New Zealanders beat Australia in a series for the first time ever, winning amongst emotional scenes on home soil.
Last year they achieved that feat for just the second time, coming from seven points down after the first leg in Sydney, taking a four-point deficit into half time of game two in Wellington, before riding the emotion of the capacity crowd to record a stunning 100-78 victory. Captain Kirk Penney, now the spiritual leader of the team, was superb with 24 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds.
As in 2001, this famous victory was put down to Australia not having a full strength team for the series. But the world was forced to sit up and take notice in Indianapolis a year later as New Zealand upset Russia in the first game of the 2002 world championship behind 22 points from Cameron, 21 points from Marks and 19 points from a 21 year old Penney.
Jones would then step up, nailing 33 points in the final game of the second round to carry his team over Yao Ming and China and into the quarter finals. There, the Tall Blacks played arguably the most famous game in their history, defeating Puerto Rico 65-63 on the back of 21 points from Jones and 16 from Cameron to move into the semi finals. While Yugoslavia and Germany would prove too strong in the medal rounds, and new era of New Zealand basketball had been born in what seemed like a heartbeat.
With Penney, Vukona, Bradshaw, Pledger, Abercrombie and Tait all still in their twenties, is 2010 when will see another re-birth? With a little help from Marks, Jones and the evergreen Cameron anything is possible and a trip to the Eight Finals would be a great result for the Tall Blacks.
|Season||Competition||Last Achieved Round|
|2014||FIBA Basketball World Cup||Round of 16|
|2012||FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament||Preliminary|
|2010||FIBA World Championship||Eight-Finals|
|2009||FIBA U19 World Championship for Men||Classification (13-16)|
|2008||FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Men||Quarter-Finals|
|2007||Borislav Stankovic Cup||Final Round|
|2006||FIBA World Championship||Eight-Finals|
|2004||Olympic Games: Tournament for Men||Classification|
|2004||FIBA Oceania U20 Championship for Men||Round 1|
|2002||World Championship for Men||Finals|
|2000||Olympic Games : Tournament for Men||Classification Round|
|1997||World Championship for Men '22 and Under'||Classification Round|
|1986||World Championship for Men||Preliminary Round|
Head coach: Nenad VUCINIC