The Junior Tall Blacks and Junior Tall Ferns squads have been announced ahead of the Hoop Nation Tournament being held in Tauranga this Labour Weekend.
The largest club tournament in the country will provide the JTFs and JTBs with stiff opposition as both teams will be playing adult club and invitational sides, some with a sprinkling of senior internationals.
For both squads this will be the last competitive hit out before the teams are announced ahead of Decembers FIBA Oceania Championships in Fiji, which will double as the qualifying tournament for the 2017 FIBA Under 19 World Championships.
The Junior Tall Ferns squad is very similar to the one that faced the China Under 19 team in two international games last month, although the American based pair of McKenna Dale and Akiene Reed will not be required to return home for this event. That said, Otago guard Nicole Ruske returns to the squad, as does Queensland based Jayden Fuiava. JTFs head coach Brent Matehaere is pleased to have both players in the squad.
"Jayden averaged 18 points per game at the Australian Under 18 National Championships and is intending to play in the Australian WNBL after completing her final school year at John Paul College in Brisbane. She is an exciting prospect who we were put in touch with by Pero Cameron, who identified her talent. She has been invited to Australian national camps, but has decided she wants to play for New Zealand.
"Nicole is still struggling with injury a little, but she is going to push through as we are making final selections following this tournament," added Matehaere.
The focus for Matehaere is individual and team performances, rather than the results in this tournament.
"We will be looking to perform what we need to do to the best of our abilities, as this weekend we have a big onus on selection. We will be looking to make sure that we have the right mix of players."
The Junior Tall Blacks team will also be named later this year, not long after the Hoop Nation event and Cartwright is delighted with the depth of talent he has available at his disposal.
"It is a nice headache to have. You would rather be in the position where you are struggling to separate guys than trying to find players to fill a spot.
"It is pretty tough to leave out guys who have been in the squad for 16 months, but we have to make a decision on the best talent we have available to give ourselves a shot at beating Australia. That is what we are about and we need to be confident we have the best group we can put forward," Cartwright added.
"I just want to see these guys get a shot at playing at a World Championship. We are trying to make history and beat Australia to qualify," added Cartwright.
Players and fellow coaches alike will echo those sentiments.
Junior Tall Ferns Squad for Hoop Nation Tournament
Tiarna Clarke (North Harbour), Aliyah Dunn (Southland), Jayden Fuiava (Queensland, Australia), Kendell Heremaia (Waikato), Alyssa Hirawani (Waikato), Joellen How (Taranaki), Zara Jillings (North Harbour), Charlisse Leger-Walker (Waikato), Esra McGoldrick (Canterbury), Bayley Ransfield (Taranaki), Nicole Ruske (Otago), Stirling Walker-Pitman (Waikato), Charlotte Whittaker (Canterbury).
Junior Tall Blacks Squad for Hoop Nation Tournament
Josh Aitcheson (Otago), Flynn Cameron (Australia), Tobias Cameron (Australia), Quinn Clinton (Canterbury), Taki Fahrensohn (Waitakere West), Dan Fotu (North Harbour), Corey Leaupepe (Wellington), Isaac Letoa (North Harbour), Hamish McDonald (Waikato), Callum McRae (Palmerston North), Angus McWilliam (Canterbury), Taane Samuel (Wellington), Sam Waardenburg (North Harbour)