There’s a positive feeling around New Zealand’s basketball men’s and women’s teams with the confirmation of the return of both coaches and that the Tall Blacks and Tall Ferns will have good overseas commitments against some tough and varied nations in 2011.
Tall Ferns coach Kennedy Hamilton-Kereama has been reappointed as head coach while Nenad Vucinic, who is coaching in Italy retains his post as Tall Blacks head coach. The assistant coach roles for both teams will be advertised shortly.
The Tall Ferns who have in the past struggled to play games have this year been confirmed for a tour to China in mid-June in a four nations tournament with more details to be finalized, however coach Hamilton-Kereama says that this year there really are some games for players to aspire to.
“There’s a lot of exciting things going on and plenty of potential this year. Last year we had just one camp. This year we’re planning on one major camp then the tour, then another camp and maybe one more in Melbourne as well,” says Hamilton-Kereama who is currently the head coach at the Sandringham Sabres team in Melbourne.
There is also the 2011 FIBA Oceania Championships being played in September in Australia. The Tall Ferns and Tall Blacks will play against the Boomers and Opals respectively in double-header clashes on 7 September in Melbourne, 9 September in Brisbane and 11 September in Sydney with the winners securing a place in the London Olympics next year.
“The Oceania Championship will be tough. Australia have a great team. Considering we’ve only beaten them once in 50 odd years you’d have to say the pressure is on them. But the Kiwi girls grow another foot taller when they put on the black singlet and on a given day if we believe in ourselves we can beat Australia.
We have some players doing well at the moment. Angela Marino is a great competitor and is playing in Adelaide, Micaela Cox is in my team here, Lisa Walbutton is at Albury Wodonga, while Jillian Harmon is playing pro in Italy and Natalie Purcell was the MVP of the Irish league,” says Hamilton-Kereama who also hopes that they Tall Ferns are on the shortlist for a tournament in Taipei as well.
The Tall Blacks will attend the Stankovic Cup in China at the end of July and early August followed by a European tour which is in the process of being put together. Currently games against Great Britain and the Netherlands in a three-team tournament have been organized.