The New Zealand Mens Select team is putting the finishing touches to their preparation ahead of international games in China, with the first against Montenegro at 9:30pm Wednesday night NZT.
The winner of that game will face off against the winner of the Cameroon v Shenzhen Leopards clash played later that night, before the New Zealanders then move cities to Zhongshan and play a final game against local CBL team Shenzhen.
Head Coach Pero Cameron says the opportunity for international basketball for many in this group is a rare one that must be treasured by the players and coaches.
"The whole idea of the NZ Select programme is to give players an opportunity to show they can thrive on the international stage and for coaches to gain experience working in that environment. With the move into Asia from next year, the Tall Blacks are facing a very different and in some ways more challenging programme in the future, with shorter and more frequent international windows through the year putting pressure on the player pool.
"That is something we are embracing though, to grow the game and expand our group of players that we can call upon, this tour provides the chance for players to learn but also to show the coaches that they are capable and ready should they be needed."
Adversity is often a word used by New Zealand basketball teams as they typically face and often overcome the odds on the international stage and this tour is no different. With Brad Anderson ruled out on the eve of the tour with an ankle injury, the guard line is for the moment further depleted with a calf injury to Houston ORiley.
While not ideal, Cameron is again looking at the positive side of such a situation.
"The injury is not serious for Houston but it is likely to keep him out from the opening game against Montenegro. We can choose to let that build pressure or we can choose to see it as an opportunity for others to step up and show their versatility. This is a great look at what can happen on tour or on the eve of big games, the choice is there for the players - to use it as an excuse or to take responsibility and respond under pressure. Obviously we would rather Houston was fit and ready to go, but this is great experience and preparation should the players find themselves in a similar situation with the Tall Blacks in the future."
Wednesday 20 July
NZ Select v Montenegro
9:30pm tip off NZT
Friday 22 July
NZ Select v Cameroon or Shenzhen
Tip off TBC
Sunday 24 July
NZ Select v Shenzhen Leopards
Tip off midnight NZT