The Aon Under 18 New Zealand men’s team was named today ahead of the FIBA U17 Oceania Championships, to be held in Guam from 9 to 15 July.
Head Coach for the Under 18s, Miles Pearce, said it was tough to select only 12 players from a wider squad of great upcoming talent.
“The quality of talent is amazing. All the athletes that have been involved with the group that have come to the camps. They have been ready to play and fight for spots in the final squad to compete at the FIBA 17's and have earned their spots.”
New Zealand have been named in Group A along with Tahiti, the Marshall Islands and Guam. On the other side of the draw in Group B, Australia and pooled with New Caledonia, Samoa and Palau. Although the Oceania’s have traditionally come down to a faceoff between Australia and New Zealand, Pearce says the Group A round robin will not be taken lightly.
“It will be a tough situation with some very good competition including the home nation pool. The travel and recovery will be vital as we push for a spot in the top two.”
The team have been preparing through five camps since March. Given the team is made up from players throughout New Zealand, Coach Pearce says time with the team is a luxury and they’ve made the most of every opportunity.
“Preferably you would like to have more time with the group during the build-up, but the team have worked hard and all the coaches have worked closely with the athletes to prepare them for international competition. The guys retention from camp to camp has been really good and the carryover has seen us, as a staff, be able to build sets that use the skills of the guys and put them in the best place to use those skills.”
As with the Tall Ferns and Tall Blacks, the New Zealand age-group teams are also subject to new qualification rules through the FIBA Asia Zone. Previously the team were required to be number one in Oceania to qualify for a FIBA World Cup, as was achieved by the Junior Tall Blacks in December last year. Now, the team is required to be within the top two in Oceania, which qualifies them to play in the FIBA Asia age-group Championships. The team will then have to finish in the top four in that tournament to qualify for the World Cup.
Coach Pearce says their main focus now is to play hard and to rely on the processes they’ve in place to get through the Oceania series.
“The current Junior Tall Blacks group is a tough act to follow, but this group is up for the challenge.
“We are really happy with the group we have assembled. They are a credit to the Associations that work with these boys week in and week out. The boys are coming in with a full skill set that we feel can produce at international level,” says Coach Pearce.
A number of the team have just returned from the NBA Asia Pacific camp where they trained with Coach Pearce under current NBA players Malik Beasley (Denver Nuggets), Andrew Nicholson (Brooklyn Nets) and Garrett Temple (Sacramento Kings), former WNBA player Zheng Haixia (the first Chinese WNBA player); NBA assistant coaches Ryan Bowen (Denver Nuggets), Charles Klask (Detroit Pistons), Bob Thornton (Sacramento Kings); and FIBA coach Ronald Cass. (See more on this camp here).
The Aon New Zealand Under 18 men’s team:
Joseph Ahie - Wellington Basketball Association
Cooper Boyce-Towler - Palmerston North Basketball Association*
Max de Geest - Canterbury Basketball Association*
Tama Faamausili - Palmerston North Basketball Association*
Tom Higgins - Central Country Basketball Association*
Peter Jenkins - Harbour Basketball
Tyler Marsh - Nelson Basketball
Matthew O'Connell - Basketball Taranaki Incorporated*
Oscar Robertson - Basketball Taranaki Incorporated*
Oscar Oswald - Palmerston North Basketball Association*
Kruz Perrott-Hunt - Harbour Basketball*
Taiaroa Porima-Flavell - Basketball Otago
(*Players who have returned from NBA Asia Pacific Camp in China. See media release here).
Staff:Miles Pearce - Head Coach
Trent Adam - Assistant Coach
Maine Mareko – Manager
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