The draw for the first-ever FIBA Womens Asia Cup took place in Bangalore, India last night.
New Zealand has been drawn in Pool A alongside perennial powerhouse China, Chinese Taipei and the DPR of Korea. Australia is in Pool B with defending champions Japan, Philippines and Korea.
The top four teams from the tournament will qualify for the 2018 FIBA Womens World Cup. This is a big opportunity for the Tall Ferns, which historically were required to beat Australia and be number one in Oceania to qualify. Now that FIBA have added New Zealand and Australia to the Asia Zone, a top four placing in Asia is the new standard.
Tall Ferns coach Kennedy Kereama knew the draw would produce tough challenges as five of the eight teams have a higher world ranking than New Zealand (ranked 38th), however he is optimistic about his teams chances.
"Its a new competition, with new opponents and a chance to qualify for the World Cup. The fact that four teams from Oceania and Asia qualify for the World Cup makes it a very realistic chance for us to progress.
"We certainly know from the results of the past and there is every chance we may face Australia again in this tournament. I guess at the end of the day you have to beat whoever is in front of you. That will certainly be our attitude going in, we never play games to lose and every opponent is going to be tough at this event."
With the draw now complete Kereama and his coaching team can start planning for the July tournament. That planning will begin early next month when the Tall Ferns trial takes place in Auckland (6 to 12 June). That squad will be announced next week.
"It is exciting to know we will have new teams to play against with varying styles of play. However most of our focus needs to be on ourselves and preparing us for what is ahead. We have a good build up and will spend a whole month in Asia to prepare.
"We need to have the chemistry and mindset amongst the group just right. I think over the years we have begun to master our trade and style of play. You can see it in the results we have been getting over the past 12 months, we just need to be consistent with it now," Kereama added.
Australia and New Zealand will compete at the Asia Cup alongside six Asian teams in Division A. Six more teams, including hosts India, will go head to head in Division B in a bid to earn promotion to Division A for the next FIBA Asia Womens Cup.
The 2017 tournament will be staged in Bangalore from July 23-29.
- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Basketball New Zealand