Alongside football, basketball is probably the most competitive sport on the international stage, but over the past two decades, the New Zealand men and women have shown they are capable of upsetting even the world’s top teams on their day.
Both the Tall Blacks and Tall Ferns made their Olympic debuts at Sydney 2000, benefitting from Australia’s automatic entry as host nation.
But those appearance served as a catalyst to greater things - two years later, the men reached the world championship semifinals at Indianapolis, a performance that earned them supreme honours at the Halberg Awards.
Men and women again attended the 2004 Athens Olympics, where the Tall Ferns excelled to reach the quarterfinals.
At the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games - the only previous occasion the sport was contested at this event - both teams took silver medals. The women were well beaten by a dominant Australian side, but the men were still in contention throughout a thrilling final, also against Australia.
Since then, the Tall Ferns have attended one further Olympics - Beijing 2008 - and are currently ranked 42nd in the world.
The men’s programme, bolstered by the Breakers’ Australian NBL successes, have become a regular fixture at the world championships, ranking 38th in the world.
Both will struggle to match their medal performances from 12 years ago, although all teams will line up somewhat short of full strength, with many of the world’s top national leagues continuing through the Games window.
The Tall Blacks face Nigeria, Canada and Australia in their pool - all of those teams are ranked ahead of them. The Tall Ferns encounter Jamaica, India and Malaysia early.
Reuben Te Rangi