Daniel Richardson

Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

Tall Blacks debut still a way off for Adams

Steven Adams. Picture / Brett Phibbs
Steven Adams. Picture / Brett Phibbs

Steven Adams doesn't have a specific timeframe on when he will finally make his debut for the Tall Blacks.

The Oklahoma City Thunder centre would be a welcome addition to the national side given the size he would provide but he opted to skip this month's World Cup in Spain so he could play in the NBA's summer league for the Thunder and focus on his development.

Adams was in Wellington today where he was conducting a basketball camp and he also brought some notable friends in Thunder general manager Sam Presti and one of their assistant coaches Mark Bryant.

Adams' international availability had been the subject of speculation during the past year until it was confirmed he wouldn't be available for the global tournament.

Presti, who spoke glowingly of Adams' character and maturity, said it was the 21-year-old's choice to not play at the World Cup.

"Obviously the decision is a real mature decision on the part of Steven and I think certainly really difficult because of how he feels about the country and the opportunity," Presti said.

"But at the same time I think people have to sometimes take a step back and [see] that development is a process, it's not an event and he's coming off a real intense, not only season, but prior to that, the draft preparation that he went though was incredibly intense."

The Tall Blacks will play the World Cup without a genuine centre after starter Alex Pledger suffered a foot injury during last month's home series against Korea.

Following the news that Pledger was in doubt for the World Cup, Tall Blacks coach Nenad Vucinic said they wouldn't make a late pitch to the Thunder to release Adams.

Vucinic's comments at the time gave the impression that it was the Thunder who made the call that Adams wouldn't play for New Zealand in Spain.

"We have made enough calls. It seems like the decision is that he's not going to be available and that's the way it is," Vucinic said last month.

But Presti stressed that Adams would pull on the Tall Blacks singlet at some stage in the future.

"I think it will be a case-by-case [thing]. We've got to see where he is and how he's feeling," Presti said. "We know it's important to him and we are going to support him as he goes through that but it would be premature, I think, for any of us to say 'this is what's going to happen a year from now'.

"The hope would be the national team benefits from the work he's putting in currently when he does play for them."

Adams, who said he would tune in and support the Tall Blacks during the World Cup, offered little insight on when a possible international debut could occur.
"I haven't really thought that far [ahead]," he said.

Presti's decision to come to New Zealand with Adams and held build ties and spread the gospel of the Thunder illustrates the value they place on the young Kiwi who enjoyed a sound rookie season for the Thunder in 2013-2014.

"First and foremost we are always trying to support our players anyway we can, on the court, off the court, personally, professionally and this is something Steven and I talked about, probably before the beginning of the season," Presti said. "I can assure you, he's constantly carrying the flag of the country, telling us all the things he's excited about and proud of and wanted us to share in that experience."

The 2.13m Adams will travel to Taiwan for another basketball camp tomorrow before returning to New Zealand to host a camp in Auckland on August 31.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 18 Dec 2014 14:28:30 Processing Time: 451ms