Basketball: Steven Adams still missing from Tall Blacks squad

New Zealand faces Hong Kong and China in World Cup Qualifiers.
New Zealand faces Hong Kong and China in World Cup Qualifiers. Photo credit: Getty Images

Steven Adams' name was once again missing from the Tall Blacks squad to face Hong Kong and China in the upcoming FIBA World Cup qualifiers in New Zealand.

With the NBA offseason well over, the two games were seen as a prime opportunity for Adams to make his international debut, but he made himself unavailable in the 20-man squad to attend a four-day Wellington training camp.

But the centre is not the only big name missing, with Alex Pledger, and Tai Webster also unavailable.

Corey Webster’s status is yet to be confirmed, as Basketball New Zealand seeks a release from his club team in China for the duration of the FIBA window.

Guard Shea Ili has been named, but won't be at the Wellington camp, as he attends an NBA mini-camp with the Dallas Mavericks.

But coach Paul Henare has named a core group of experienced and well performed Tall Blacks.

Tai Webster.
Tai Webster. Photo credit: Getty Images

"This is always an exciting time, to work through a list of players in contention for the Tall Blacks, some for the upcoming window, while others might have to be a little more patient," Henare said.

"This is, nonetheless, a great opportunity to expose them to the Tall Blacks culture and way of doing things.

"We have an exciting group of very talented players who are capable of mixing it with the best teams in the world.

"This is a great chance to see some of the players we know, as well as bring in some of the US-based talents from their American colleges and gauge their progress."

Headlining the group are experienced campaigners like Mika Vukona, Tom Abercrombie, Rob Loe, Isaac Fotu, Jarrod Kenny, Reuben Te Rangi, Jordan Ngatai, and Finn Delany, with all except Fotu winning bronze at the recent Commonwealth Games.

Teenagers Max Darling and Kruz Perrot-Hunt have also been named for the first time.

"The camp is also a great chance to look at some of our emerging young talents, with Kruz and Max," said Henare.

 

"Two young players [are] getting the chance to rub shoulders with the likes of Tom, Mika and Isaac at the camp, and understand the levels they must aspire to early in their careers."

The Tall Blacks face Hong Kong in Rotorua on June 28, and China in Auckland on July 1.

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