Basketball: Te Rangi's future in big doubt

By Michael Botur

Reuben Te Rangi.
Reuben Te Rangi.

Reuben Te Rangi might be in limbo with the Breakers as he awaits sentencing for assault but he will get a better sense of what impact it will have on his international career when the Tall Blacks name a World Cup training squad next week.

Te Rangi, Leon Henry and Shea Ili pleaded guilty in the New Plymouth District Court on Thursday to five counts of assault following a brawl at New Plymouth's Crowded House bar on May 25. All three are due to be sentenced on August 1, when they are expected to seek discharges without conviction.

Henry admitted two counts of injuring with intent and assault with intent to injure. Ili pleaded guilty to assault with intent and common assault and Te Rangi admitted assault with intent to injure.

The most serious charge, injuring with intent to injure, attracts a maximum five-year prison sentence.

The Breakers are waiting until after sentencing to decide whether Te Rangi will remain with the franchise but the Tall Blacks aren't afforded that luxury.

Coach Nenad Vucinic must submit a World Cup squad of up to 24 players and the final 12 must come from this list.

Te Rangi and Henry would normally be among the contenders for the 24-man squad, with Te Rangi a strong chance for the final squad.

The Tall Blacks will hold a camp early next month before hosting Korea in three internationals. An extended squad will then depart on July 26 for a series of games in Korea, China, Lithuania and Serbia before the World Cup starts in Spain at the end of August. New Zealand have been drawn in the same pool as the United States, Dominican Republic, Finland, Turkey and Ukraine.

Te Rangi, Henry and Ili have already seen their one-year contracts terminated by the Southland Sharks.

NBL chairman Sam Rossiter-Stead said Sharks management "acted swiftly and decisively and we fully endorse their decision to suspend these three players with immediate effect".

The loss of the players left the Sharks so desperate, coach Paul Henare has had to come out of retirement to play. It ushered in a good run of results and if they win their next game, they are in contention for the playoffs. Henare retired from playing after the Breakers' first ANBL title in 2010.

Breakers chief executive Richard Clark said Te Rangi had let himself, his family and the club down.

"As a club, we are believers in the power of redemption, but that redemption must be earned," he said. "Reuben has made a mistake and now has the opportunity to show how he will learn and respond to this situation. The next step for Reuben is sentencing, and his future as a Breaker will be dependent on the outcome of that process."

- Herald on Sunday

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