Basketball: Tall Ferns squad trimmed to 12 for Rio qualifying

Kalani Purcell drives to the basket against Australia. Photo / Getty Images
Kalani Purcell drives to the basket against Australia. Photo / Getty Images

The Tall Ferns Women's Basketball squad has been trimmed to 12 ahead of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament beginning in France in just seven days time.

Head Coach Kennedy Kereama had the difficult task of omitting two players from his party of 14 following the Four Nations Tournament in Belarus last week.

The two players to miss out are Waikato teenager Krystal Leger-Walker and Melbourne based Jessica Bygate. Formerly from Nelson, Bygate currently plays for Sunbury Jets in the Big V League.

Kereama says, "It was a tough decision as both players bring so much and the coaching staff spent a long time agonising over the decision.
However it is important to remember that if we qualify for Rio all 16 original squad members will get a chance to come back and re-trial.

"I am confident both will go home and work hard and be ready for a call up at any time. Injuries happen, sickness happens, we are hoping we don't have to replace anyone under those circumstances but it is a reality."

The Tall Ferns are now based in Asturias in northern Spain where they will take on the hosts in the final two hit outs for both teams before the Olympic Qualifying Tournament. The challenge doesn't get any easier for the Kiwis with Spain, a team Kereama admires greatly, only headed by USA and Australia on the world rankings. The games will be played this week on Wednesday and Thursday at 7pm local time (5am NZ time Thursday and Friday mornings).

Kereama is looking forward to the challenges ahead, "We are really happy with the 12 players we have selected. All positions across the board we have depth in and all players can contribute and have experience in the black singlet.

"We have surrounded our vets with players who can fulfil roles and support them when needed. This will be the deepest our bench has been for sometime and in most of the build up games we have had we have lost nothing when we have had to rotate."

- NZ Herald

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