The Junior Tall Ferns final squad has been named today, ahead of the FIBA Under 18 Oceania Championships in December.
Head Coach Brent Matehaere says narrowing the wider squad down to the final 12 was a tough ask due to the number of talented players available.
"It came down to a feeling around the fit of guards and forwards. Those that missed out are disappointed and that is because they gave all we asked. I know that if someone should not be able to go through injury then we have able replacements waiting in the wings. Tough selection choices are a luxury that we have not always had, so it was pleasing to see how competitive it was to make the final group," says Matehaere.
One of the big rewards for the victor of the Oceania Championships is automatic qualification to the FIBA Under 19 World Cup in Italy next year, but the team have a big task ahead of them. The favourites are Australia, a team made up of eight players who were World Under 17 Champions this year.
"Australia are for all intents and purposes a professional basketball team with 11 of them at the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence where they train, attend school, train, and train some more while playing in the South East Australian Basketball League as a group. The only way that we can think about competing with Australia is just that - compete with them for every possession, every loose ball, create disruption and then execute to the best of our ability on offense.
"While it is easy to get carried away looking at the potential final match-up with Australia, it is also important to give due respect to the opposition that we will face over there. Guam, New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea will be looking at us and working out how to disrupt our systems and score a win," says Matahaere.
The team are talented, which is evident with the number of players that have already secured Division 1 scholarships to U.S. colleges, and that rising talent pool is encouraging for future Tall Ferns rosters.
"With the increasing number of players playing and contributing in the WNBL, we are really seeing positive growth in the women's game. The talent is really starting to come through and if the attitude held by this group of players continues into the future, then New Zealand will be really competitive when we take on the Asia qualification series in the years to come," says Matehaere.
Junior Tall Ferns
Tiarna Clarke (North Harbour)
McKenna Dale (Connecticut, USA)
Aliyah Dunn (Southland)
Jayden Fuiava (QLD, Australia)
Kendell Heremaia (Waikato)
Alyssa Hirawani (Waikato)
Zara Jillings (North Harbour)
Charlisse Leger-Walker (Waikato)
Esra McGoldrick (Canterbury)
Tera Reed (North Harbour)
Nicole Ruske (Otago)
Charlotte Whittaker (North Canterbury)
Head Coach - Brent Matehaere
Assistant Coaches - Trent Adam, Bronwen Davidson
Manager - Melanie Bennett
Physiotherapist - Janet Main
for all tournament information.
Full game schedule here:
All games will run Live Stats, which can be viewed via the FIBA event website.
At this stage no details are available regarding the live streaming of matches.