2016 Manila #FIBAOQT Scouting Report: The Tall Blacks of New Zealand

(Image from the AFP)
The 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) that will be held here in Manila is just around the corner, which means it’s the perfect time to get a better of feel of each of the teams taking part and playing for one of three remaining wild card tickets to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

In this part, let’s focus on the Tall Blacks of New Zealand.

FIBA Rank: 21

Latest FIBA performance: 
- Lost to Australia in the 2015 FIBA Oceania Championship, 71-59, 89-79.

Latest tune-up games: 
- 4 wins, 1 loss in the 2016 Atlas Challenge in China. They finished 3rd overall and won against Belarus, Japan, and China B in group play. They lost to Lithuania in the semis before beating China B again in the 3rd place game.

Final 12-Man Roster:
Tom Abercrombie - 6’6 - F
BJ Anthony - 6’6 - F
Everard Bartlett - 6’6 - F
Isaac Fotu - 6’8 - F/C
Shea Ili - 6’0 - G
Michael Karena - 6’10 - C
Rob Loe - 6’11 - C
Jordan Ngatai - 6’5 - F/G
Derone Raukawa - 5’11 - G
Mika Vukona - 6’6 - F
Corey Webster - 6’1 - G
Tai Webster - 6’4 - G

Key Players:
The star: Corey Webster - Webster led NZL in scoring in both the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup and 2015 FIBA Oceania Championship against Australia. He is a versatile guard who can score from anywhere on the floor, whether off the dribble, off the screen, or in transition. He is expected to be this team’s #1 scoring option in the OQT. 

(Image from FIBA)

The veteran: Mika Vukona - Vukona has been a member of the Tall Blacks for more than a decade, and this may well be his final tour of duty with the squad. He will certainly want to come out with guns blazing and another shot at an Olympic medal. He brings a lot of grit, experience, and toughness to this team.

The breakout: Isaac Fotu - Fotu is one of the younger guys on this team, starting his stint on the men’s team in 2014. He has become a mainstay since then and is easily this team’s most productive big man, especially now that Steven Adams won’t be around. 

(Image from FIBA)

Outlook: The Tall Blacks are missing their best outside threat, Jarrod Kenny, but they are still bringing a loaded and experience crew to Manila. They are the underdogs against France, but they should be pretty much on equal footing (or maybe even slightly favored) against Gilas Pilipinas, which is helmed by their former coach, Tab Baldwin. Their game against the Philippine may well be a do-or-die match to see who makes it to the second round.




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