The New Zealand basketball national team is ready to go for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain as the Tall Blacks named their 12-man roster to compete in the basketball world championships set from Aug. 30 to Sept. 14, 2014.
The initial 14-player training camp pool has been cut down to a dozen as big men Tai Wynyard and Nick Horvath failed to make the team.
Power forward-center Wynyard, who is just 16 years old, was an expected omission being the youngest and least experienced player in the team. Horvath’s non-inclusion was a bit of a surprise as the Tall Blacks dropped another big man and will go to the World Cup as one of the undersized teams in the tournament.
New Zealand NT head coach Nenad Vucinic admitted that the decision was hard.
"It was a very difficult decision for us, so I can't even imagine how difficult it would have been for Nick in this situation," Vucinic said to stuff.co.nz. "He took it well. We had a meeting, and the boys did probably the best ever haka I've seen in my life performed by the Tall Blacks to Nick. It was very emotional. Nick took it like a man. I wish him all the best and my heart goes out to him."
Left to battle it out against the best basketball national teams in the world in Spain are B.J. Anthony (Adelaide 36ers), Lindsay Tait (Wellington Saints), Tai Webster (Nebraska Cornhuskers), Jarrod Kenny (Hawke’s Bay Hawks), Kirk Penney (Trabzonspor Basketball), Corey Webster (New Zealand Breakers), Tom Abercrombie (New Zealand Breakers), Everard Bartlett (Hawke’s Bay Hawks), Mika Vukona (New Zealand Breakers), Isaac Fotu (Hawaii Warriors), Casey Frank (Wellington Saints) and Rob Loe (Saint Louis Billikens).
Penney will be the leader of the squad. In six games at the 2010 FIBA World Championships in Turkey, Penney averaged 24.7 points per game-- 2nd best in the entire tournament.
New Zealand is part of the tough Group C in the FIBA World Cup. Group stages games will include match-ups with top contender United States of America. Also included in the group are Dominican Republic, Finland, Turkey and Ukraine.
Teams will each have five games each in the initial round with the top four teams advancing to the Round of 16 knockout stage.
The New Zealand Tall Blacks have named their final 12 and they are hoping that they will at least advance from the group stages in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.