The Tall Blacks are considered underdogs in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. They come in the tournament ranked 19th overall and third in their group.
New Zealand cut their 14-man roster to 12 at the last minute. The squad is led by veteran guard Kirk Penney, who led New Zealand to victory in the FIBA Oceania Championship in 2009. Penney has received marginal experience in the National Basketball Association (NBA) after he was signed by the Miami Heat for a 10-day contract 11 years ago, becoming the second New Zealander to play in the NBA. Even at the age of 33, Penney is expected to be the primary scorers for his team in the tournament.
Tai Webster of the University of Nebraska is also expected to headline New Zealand's campaign in the tournament. He showed outstanding performance during the Tall Blacks' exhibition match against Serbia finishing with 21 points, four rebounds, and two assists.
Another player to watch out for is Mika Vukona, who scored 22 points against Serbia. New Zealand can bank on Vukona in rebounding and defense. Two more solid scorers are Tom Abercrombie, who has also participated in training camps with NBA teams like Milwaukee Bucks, San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, and Dallas Mavericks recently andRob Loe, who joined the 2014 Golden State Warriors summer league team, averaging 10.3 points per game.
The only notable flaws in the New Zealand squad is the lack of size and the absence of Oklahoma City Thunder back-up center Steven Adams, who begged off from his NT commitments. The average height of the Tall Blacks is 6' 5" and no player is taller than 6' 8".
Video Courtesy: YouTube/FIBA
Tall Blacks World Cup Team (Club/Position)
Kirk Penney (Trabzonspor;Turkey/Shooting Guard, Small Forward) Tai Webster (University of Nebraska-Lincoln/Point Guard, Shooting Guard) Mika Vukona (NZ Breakers;NBL/Power Forward) Tom Abercrombie (NZ Breakers;NBL/Shooting Guard) Rob Loe (Saint Louis University/Center, Power Forward) Isaac Fotu (University of Hawaii/Forward) Casey Frank (Waikato Pistons/Power Forward) Everard Bartlett (Hawke's Bay Hawks;NBL/Point Guard, Shooting Guard) Lindsay Tait (Wellington Saints/Point Guard, Shooting Guard) Jarrod Kenney (Hawke's Bay Hawks;NBL/Point Guard) B.J. Anthony (Adelaide 36ers;NBL/Power Forward) Corey Webster (NZ Breakers;NBL/Point Guard, Shooting Guard)
New Zealand Schedule
New Zealand vs. Turkey - Aug. 30 New Zealand vs. Dominican Republic - Aug. 31 New Zealand vs. United States - Sept. 2 New Zealand vs. Ukraine - Sept. 3 New Zealand vs. Finland - Sept. 4