The Aon New Zealand Under 17 Boys team has been named ahead of the upcoming FIBA U16 Asian Championship.
The thirteen-team tournament, which runs from April 2-8, is being held in Foshan, China. The championship doubles as Asia’s qualifying tournament for the 2018 FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup to be held in Argentina later this year.
New Zealand has been drawn in Pool A along with China and Hong Kong, with the top placed team advancing directly to the quarter-finals. If placed second New Zealand will face the third placed team in Pool B for a spot in the last eight.
Pool B is made up of Australia, Philippines and Malaysia. Pool C comprises of Iran, Chinese Taipei and Macau with defending champions Korea, Japan, Lebanon and India in Pool D.
New Zealand Head Coach Dave Bublitz is looking forward to the tournament with preparation a long time in the making as the championship was originally scheduled for October 2017.
“We held our first camp back in December 2016 so we have had a long time preparing for this event.
“The majority of the team we have selected came on a tour of the Philippines in July last year. We used that tour to gain experience playing against Asian style basketball, which is very guard orientated and quite different to the style we are accustomed to in New Zealand.
“We have had a total of six camps as a build up to the Asia qualifier, the last being in Rotorua in December. That camp was very beneficial and I know when the team comes together again later this month they will bond very quickly.”
Bublitz stated that the goal for the coaching staff and players was very simple.
“We want to make the quarter finals then from there we are one win away from a place at the FIBA U17 World Cup.”
Bublitz expects the main competition to come from traditional foes.
“I imagine Australia will start favourites and Asian powerhouse China are always formidable. I’ve also heard that Japan and Korea operate with full-time coaches so we can expect those two teams to be strong.”
The team will gather for a couple of days training in Auckland on 26 March and will also play a couple of warm-up games in China before the tournament gets underway on 2 April.
Aon New Zealand Under 17 Boys team:
Head Coach: David Bublitz
Assistant Coach: Doug Courtney
Assistant Coach: Aaron Young
Manager: Delwyn Whale
Team Doctor/Physio: Todd Wolfe
More information on the event can be found at the FIBA website here: http://www.fiba.basketball/asia/u16/2017/news/draw-results-in-for-fiba-u16-asian-championship
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