The Tall Blacks are likely to have more of their top players available for their FIBA World Cup qualification quest.

FIBA laid out their new competition structure on the Gold Coast on Wednesday, with the Tall Blacks set to play more home games, in shorter international windows.

The World Cup qualification path initially sees the Tall Blacks play six games over three international windows - in November, February and late June/early July. They will play China, South Korea and Hong Kong at home, and each window will only be nine days long, reducing the workload on players.

While Steven Adams and college players will be unavailable for the November and February windows, the amount of local players unavailable for the Tall Blacks should drastically reduce.


In the past, the Tall Blacks have gone on lengthy tours, making it a more difficult decision for some players to commit. Last year, the list of unavailable players nearly hit double digits, with a raft of factors leaving several key players unable to suit up for the 2016 Olympic qualification tour.

Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare says that the shorter commitment required should see more players make themselves available for international duty.

"With the long campaigns in the past, that's been a hell of a commitment from our guys over a long period of time. At the last World Cup it was damn near close to eight weeks for that whole preparation and build-up including the World Cup, so it's a big ask. Now we're asking guys to get together for a much shorter period of time, and it's better physically and mentally for these guys."

The new competition structure provides a rare opportunity for New Zealand's best players to represent their country at home. Nearly all of the Tall Blacks' memorable moments have come in foreign conditions at unfavourable hours of the morning, and the benefits of a raucous home atmosphere is virtually unknown to the national team.

Having regular home games will also aid visibility for the sport as a whole, says Henare.

"There's benefits all across the board and I think the regularity of us playing in New Zealand is beneficial for everyone and I think that exposure will just reinforce the good work which has been done for so long. Just the fact we've have limited opportunities to do it in the past and now we're guaranteed those opportunities to do it at home, it's what really exciting about this new system.

"I've been part of the Tall Blacks since 1999 and can unfortunately almost count on one hand the amount of times - outside of Australia - that we've played a meaningful competition game [at home]. It means a lot and I know there are a lot of excited people."

Before they embark on their World Cup qualification path, the Tall Blacks will make their debut at the Asia Cup in Lebanon.

The Tall Blacks go into camp on the 20th of July, before playing a build-up tournament in China as preparation. One player who may not be available for the Asia Cup is point guard Tai Webster, who is set to be chasing his NBA dream. While Webster is unlikely to be drafted, he is likely to receive Summer League and camp invites in June and July.

"I had a really good chat to Tai a week or so ago, he is on that journey to try and make the NBA. Drafted or non-drafted, he'll have some commitments around that time," said Henare.

"That's a really important time for him and it's something that we fully support and we'll just have to wait and see what his commitments are around then."