Tall Black Isaac Fotu selected for third Basketball World Cup

Tall Black Isaac Fotu is at his third Basketball World Cup.

The Tall Blacks squad for the Basketball World Cup tipping off in the Philippines on Friday includes seven players at their first World Cup and one at his third.

Forward Isaac Fotu will make his third FIBA World Cup appearance, joining rare company that includes Kirk Penney, Mika Vukona and Tom Abercrombie as one of eight New Zealand basketballers to achieve this feat.

Joining Fotu in their second straight World Cup will be Finn Delany, Jordan Ngatai, Shea Ili and Tohi Smith-Milner.

The remaining seven athletes including captain Reuben Te Rangi will be attending their first World Cup.

Coach Pero Cameron’s son Flynn is among the newcomers.

With an average age of 26.7 years, this is a blended squad of veteran talent and young athletes; Walter Brown the youngest in the team at 20 years, while Ili and Ngatai are both 30 and fill the role of experienced veterans.

Ngatai comes in as the most capped player in the squad with 71 Tall Blacks appearances, while the reliable quartet of Ili, Fotu, Smith-Milner and Te Rangi all average almost 60 caps each.

For 28-year-old Te Rangi he said it is a great honour to lead the Tall Blacks team in Manila.

“Obviously the last World Cup I was out with injury, I had to get surgery on my knee so that was disappointing. This opportunity coming around now is amazing and I can’t express how excited I am to be here and to play in this World Cup.” Te Rangi said.

“To lead this team is an easy gig, we have a lot of leaders on our team and anyone of the boys could’ve been captain, so it’s easy on that part. My style is to lead by example; I speak up every now and then when I need to, but otherwise it’s just lead by example.”

Cameron said the team was happy to have landed in the Philippines, following over a month of intense preparation that included friendly games played in Japan, Germany and China.

“Really happy to finally be here, there’s nothing like getting to the World Cup and getting into Manila, and preparing for the challenge ahead of us. This last four to five week campaign of building towards this has been great and I’m just excited to be here.

“With the six games we had [in the month prior to the World Cup], we always wonder if it was enough or too much, especially in a five-week campaign. You want these games to get you battle ready and for us to improve every day – and have those moments where you recognise you are getting somewhere. And we want to get some results that help you acknowledge and get belief within the group, and we got a mixture of that so I’m happy.”

Tall Blacks squad for FIBA Men’s Basketball World Cup

Finn Delany, Telekom Baskets Bonn / NZ Breakers

Flynn Cameron, Melbourne United

Hyrum Harris, Hawkes Bay Hawks / Perth Wildcats

Isaac Fotu, Utsunomiya Brex

Izayah Le’Afa, Wellington Saints / NZ Breakers

Jordan Ngatai, Hawkes Bay Hawks

Reuben Te Rangi, Auckland Tuatara / S.E. Melbourne Phoenix

Shea Ili, Melbourne United

Taylor Britt, Canterbury Rams

Tohi Smith-Milner, Wellington Saints / Adelaide 36ers

Walter Brown, Canterbury Rams / Tasmania Jackjumpers

Yanni Wetzell, Alba Berlin

Tall Blacks 1st Round Schedule

New Zealand vs USA – Sunday 27 August, 12.40am NZT

New Zealand vs Jordan – Monday 28 August, 8.45pm NZT

New Zealand vs Greece – Thursday 31 August, 12.40am NZT

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