Kirk Penney hasn't played for the Tall Blacks in three years but he went straight back to what he does best during the first test against Korea.
The European-based sharp-shooter knocked down 17 points during New Zealand's 102-69 win over the visitors in Wellington last night. While basketball is certainly a team game, the Tall Blacks will need Penney, 33, to fire if they want to make waves at the World Cup in Spain in August.
New Zealand have a thorough build-up for the global tournament and last night's game was the first of many on the road to Spain.
"I think we'll probably look at that and see things we do need to work on," Penney said of last night's win.
"They're fast; pretty physical. They're getting up in you, they're not big guys but they try and impose their hands and their elbows and they force turnovers."
Aside from Penney, Corey Webster (15) and Benny Anthony (11) also made their way in to double figures, while Tall Blacks coach Nenad Vucinic managed to get all 12 of his players on the court and everybody made their way on to the scoresheet.
"I think that's what these games are all about," Penney said. "I think Nenad wants everyone to get a run. There's some young guys that are playing for the Tall Blacks for the first time and it's really, really important just to get out there and get a feel for it."
One of those young guns was Tai Wynyard who became the youngest Tall Black of all time when the 16-year-old took the floor in the second quarter at the TSB Bank Arena last night."I think we jumped on them a little bit in the first half," Vucinic said.
"They're not as bad a team as they played in that first half and we expect a much, much stronger and tougher challenge in Tauranga [tomorrow]." (thur)Korea struggled to shoot the ball throughout the game last night as the Tall Blacks held them to 36 per cent shooting from the floor.
"We played good defence in the second phase towards the end of the shot clock,"
"But in transition and also the first phase of defence we were late."The series moves to Tauranga for game two tomorrow night and the New Zealand leg comes to a close with game three in Auckland on Saturday.
The sides will meet again shortly with two games in Korea before the Tall Blacks head to China to continue their journey to Spain.
Tall Blacks 102 (Kirk Penney 17, Corey Webster 15, Benny Anthony 11) Korea 69 (Jongkyu Kim 15, Taejong Moon 14) 1Q: 22-13, halftime: 56-24 , 3Q: 75-44