Basketball: Tall Blacks' Paul Henare set to square off with NBA champion Nick Nurse

Henare and Nurse.
Henare and Nurse. Photo credit: Getty

Head coach Paul Henare will have a chance to test himself against one of the world's best when his Tall Blacks take on Canada in Sydney, starting Tuesday night.

Henare will go head-to-head with Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse - who's fresh off leading the Candian franchise to its first-ever NBA championship - in the first of a two-game pre-World Cup warm-up series.

"Nick Nurse has had an awesome year and did an amazing job with the Raptors in the NBA this year," said Henare.

"I don’t know much about him other than he is a 'lifer' and has been in the game coaching for a long time and I am sure has learned a lot along the way. But he is new to this group and is likely still figuring them out and what systems work best for his group. He will be focused on them and what they can do.

“But the personal challenge at this level it is always great, you come up against great coaches, over in Japan we faced Julio Lamas who has been coaching for 30 years and coached Argentina at the World Cup, along the way you come up against some great minds you just take each experience as it comes and learn as much as you can."

The on-court threat from the Canadians is just as pressing. While they're missing the majority of their NBA talent - including the likes of Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Nuggets gun Jamal Murray - Nurse has still assembled a formidable squad, spearheaded by young point guard Kevin Pangos and promising Orlando Magic forward Khem Birch.

"Pangos is a world class point guard, and they have talent across the floor. Watching the pace he played at in game one, the way he controlled the game was outstanding. They are led down the middle by an NBA center in Birch who is big, mean and athletic and is a real threat around the rim.

"But they have guys I haven’t seen before but have played in the G-League and in Europe, they have experience and professionals from a very high level. What has impressed me is their ability to play off the dribble and the experience they bring, across the floor they have some really good weapons."

Canada split their warm-up series 1-1 with Australia last week, while NZ did the same in their two-game stretch against Japan.

Game one tips off at 9:30pm NZT at Quaycentre, with game two scheduled for the same time Wednesday night.

New Zealand will finalise their 12-man squad for the World Cup at the conclusion of the series.

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