Two Taranaki Basketballers named in NZ U18 squad
28 Jun 2017
The overseas travelling will continue for a pair of New Plymouth basketballers after they were named in the New Zealand under-18 squad for the Oceania Championships in Guam.
New Plymouth Boys' High School's Oscar Robertson and Francis Douglas Memorial College's Matthew O'Connell are among 12 players named by coach Miles Pearce for the championship that starts on July 9.
The pair have only just returned from China where they attended the National Basketball Association's Asia Pacific camp.
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 final between Australia and New Zealand, Pearce said the group round robin would 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, Pearce said time with the team has been a luxury and they have had to make 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 have to adhere to new qualification rules through the FIBA Asia Zone.
Previously, the team were required to be No 1 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.
Taranaki Mountain Airs coach Trent Adam is the assistant coach of the New Zealand side.