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Tall Blacks back at Asia Cup – RNZ

A young inexperienced Tall Blacks side are favourites to gain automatic entry into the quarterfinals of the FIBA Asia Cup in Indonesia.
Tall Blacks for Asia Cup 2022 Photo: Basketball New Zealand
The world number 27 New Zealand team are grouped with India (ranked 82), Lebanon (54) and recent rivals Philippines (34) for pool play, with the Tall Blacks expected to win three from three and move on to the knockout stages of the tournament in Jakarta.
The Tall Blacks are back for a second consecutive trip to the Asia Cup, after making their debut in 2017 when New Zealand finished fourth.
With an average age of 23 and 64 total national team caps amongst them, this Tall Blacks team is undoubtedly younger and less experienced than recent squads.
Coach Pero Cameron has named four debutants in Isaac Davidson, Max Darling, Sam Mennenga and Kane Keil.
Davidson, Darling and Keil all play solid minutes in the New Zealand national league and Mennenga is coming off a strong sophomore campaign at college in the United States for the Wildcats in NCAA Division 1.
A trio of other US college players in Flynn Cameron, Kruz-Perrott Hunt and Taine Murray are also in the squad.
Cameron impressed in limited minutes in last month’s World Cup Qualifier game in Auckland with 6 points off the bench, while Perrott-Hunt’s last appearance in the black singlet was in 2019.
Murray averaged 7 points per game over two games in the 2021 Asian Qualifiers, playing alongside Jordan Hunt in that series – the 6’9″ centre with 5 points and 7 rebounds in his lone appearance.
Both Taylor Britt and Taki Fahrensohn are shooting guards with more recent Tall Blacks experience, each playing in the national team’s World Cup Asian Qualifiers in Manila in March this year.
Anchoring the ship are Tall Black veterans Tohi Smith-Milner and Sam Timmins, who have a combined 51 caps between them and who both played in the national team’s last game – a 106-60 win in Auckland against Philippines.
Both players were also key contributors on the 2017 Tall Black’s Asia Cup team.
The Tall Blacks first opponenet India will have an inexperienced squad on the floor for the Asia Cup.
Although India will make their 27th appearance in the tournament, they had a 2017 Asia Cup campaign to forget – going 0-3 against Syria, Jordan and Iran to not make it out of pool play.
More recently, India have not enjoyed much in the way of success against New Zealand; losing twice – a 101-46 thrashing, followed by a 95-60 loss – to the Tall Blacks during the World Cup Asian Qualifiers in Manila in March.
India will feature some talented players in their squad, including Amritpal Singh (8.7 rebounds per game in the Asia Cup) and rising prospect Muin Bek Hafeez.
Their most notable player is legendary guard Vishesh Bhrugivanshi, known as the “Bearded Baba”, who will appear in his sixth Asia Cup.
The Tall Blacks take on India in their first game of the FIBA Asia Cup 2022 at 4pm on Wednesday.
Flynn Cameron, Riverside California (1 cap)
Isaac Davidson, NZ Breakers / Franklin Bulls (0 caps)
Jordan Hunt, Hawkes Bay Hawks (1 caps)
Kane Keil, Franklin Bulls (0 caps)
Kruz Perrott-Hunt, University of South Dakota (2 caps)
Max Darling, Canterbury Rams (0 caps)
Sam Mennenga, Davidson College (0 caps)
Sam Timmins, NZ Breakers / Otago Nuggets (12 caps)
Taine Murray, University of Virginia (3 caps)
Taki Fahrensohn, Auckland Tuatara (3 caps)
Taylor Britt, Canterbury Rams (4 caps)
Tohi Smith-Milner, South East Melbourne Phoenix / Sandringham Sabres (39 caps)
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