Basketball: Henry, Te Rangi omitted from Tall Blacks trial

Leon Henry. Photograph by Greg Bowker
Leon Henry. Photograph by Greg Bowker

Southland Sharks basketballers Reuben Te Rangi and Leon Henry have both been omitted from the 24 players who will trial for the Tall Blacks squad to attend the World Cup in Spain later this year.

The duo, along with team-mate Shea Ili, are facing serious assault charges as a result of an incident in New Plymouth following an NBL game earlier this season.

Basketball NZ chief executive Iain Potter confirmed today that none of the three were considered for the trial, in Auckland on July 8 and 9.

"The situation with Leon, Shea and Reuben has been an unwelcome one," said Potter. "As has been well documented the basketball community has reacted as you would expect to the assault charges laid against the three, for which they face sentencing on August 1st.

"Right now Nenad and the team need to fully concentrate on preparing as best they can without distraction. All three pleaded guilty and have expressed great remorse over their part in the New Plymouth incident.

But after discussion with the coaching staff and the Board of Basketball New Zealand, the decision was made to not include them in the mix, regardless of the outcome on August 1st."

The 24 include of a strong core of veteran Tall Black players with previous World Cup experience, including Kirk Penney (2002, 06, 10), Mika Vukona (2006, 10), Tom Abercrombie (2010), Benny Anthony (2010), Lindsay Tait (2010), Casey Frank (2010) and Alex Pledger (2010).

Contrasting those who have tasted a World Cup before is a generation of young talent eager for their first experience. There are 11 players aged 22 or younger in the 24, including 6 teenagers. Amongst that young group invited to the two-day camp are Jack Salt (18) who debuted last year before heading away to College in the States and Tai Wynyard (16) who emerges from the Super City Rangers NBL team and Breakers Academy and a recent MVP performance at the Nike All Asia Camp in China.

Vucinic says the camp is a chance to see whether the youngsters are ready to take the step up into international basketball.

"Young players come with a lot of talent, confidence and enthusiasm into Tall Black camps. Playing against experienced players is not easy for them and some struggle while others take the challenge well. For us coaches it is a unique opportunity to test them in a pressure cooker environment."

Tall Blacks triallists: Thomas Abercrombie (26-years-old, Breakers, forward, 198cm), Benny Anthony (25, Wellington Saints, forward, 198cm), Everard Bartlett (28, Hawkes Bay Hawks, guard, 191cm), Duane Bailey (22, Super City Rangers, forward, 196cm), Josh Bloxham (24, Nelson Giants, guard, 186cm), Finn Delany (18, Nelson Giants, forward, 200cm), Justin Edwards (23, Canterbury Rams, forward, 201cm), Isaac Fotu (20, University of Hawaii, forward, 203cm), Casey Frank (36, Waikato Pistons, forward, 203cm), Nick Horvath (33, Manawatu Jets, centre, 208cm), Jarrod Kenny (28, Hawkes Bay Hawks, guard, 186cm), Dyson King (21, Waikato Pistons, forward, 200cm), Rob Loe (22, University of Louisville, forward, 200cm), Izayah Mauriohooho Le'afa (17, Wellington Saints, guard, 178cm), Jordan Ngatai (21, BYU-Hawaii, forward, 198cm), Kirk Penney (33, Trabzonspor (Turkey), guard, 196cm), Alex Pledger (27, Breakers, centre, 215cm), Jack Salt (18, Waikato Pistons, centre, 205cm), Lindsay Tait (32, Wellington Saints, guard, 190cm), Tohi Smith-Milner (18, Super City Rangers, forward, 206cm), Mika Vukona (32, Nelson Giants, forward, 198cm), Corey Webster (25, Wellington Saints, guard, 185cm), Tai Webster (19, University of Nebraska, guard, 193cm), Tai Wynyard (16, Super City Rangers, forward, 201cm).

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