The Tall Blacks mens basketball team at the FIBA Asia Cup in August will be a largely young and inexperienced one, with Head Coach Paul Henare confirming today from the NZ Select Tour in China that he will select with player welfare and longer term goals top of mind.

With New Zealands inclusion in Asia for the first time, 2017 was always going to be a transition year. Increased and new demands on players, coaches and support staff are being considered, with the most important games in an exciting schedule being the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, with the first such window in November (Korea at home on November 23, Hong Kong away on November 26).

While the Asia Cup is a prestigious tournament (one that will carry much more weight in future editions as they form part of the Olympic and World Cup qualifying cycle), the 2017 edition has no repercussions on the pathway to the 2019 World Cup and 2020 Olympics.

Consequently, Henare has made the call to ensure his best players are available and fresh to go against South Korea and Hong Kong in late November.

"After some considerable thought and many conversations, I have decided - with the blessing of Basketball New Zealand, to name a largely inexperienced team for the Asia Cup in August. We were already facing the prospect of playing without a number of our key players, for one reason or another, and given there are upcoming windows that carry much more significance for our programme, I have had to prioritize those opportunities in planning the next three years.

"It would be unfair and unrealistic on the playing group to expect everyone to be available at every opportunity. It is simply not possible from a player welfare point of view. The next ten months especially will be full on and without a break for our leading players if we were to bring them in from July for this Asia Cup."

Adding to the selection conundrum is the unavailability of a number of those senior players, with Mika Vukona rehabbing ahead of the NBL season, Rob Loe getting married and Corey and Tai Webster chasing possible NBA contracts. A number of NCAA players are also off the radar, as their coaches restrict their ability to play for their country at this time.

However, while the team that will assemble in late July for the August tournament in Beirut may not feature many leading players, Henare is not backing down from the standards expected, and sees the tournament as a wonderful opportunity for further development and increased competition amongst a wider group of players.

"Whatever team we assemble there is an expectation that they will do all they can to live up to the heritage and culture of the black singlet. It is a culture that has been added to layer by layer over many years by many proud players, coaches and staff.

"The depth in the game at present means that we will want to be competitive and finish as high as we can in our first ever Asia Cup, this will be a test of a younger group of players to see just how capable they are of going to the next level, creating an even deeper pool of talent to select from as we look to earn our spot at the World Cup in China 2019 and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

"The next three years are incredibly exciting and will be very demanding, with a programme that now includes regular FIBA World Cup qualifying games (home and away), the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast and the Asia Cup. We are going to need more depth than ever as players are not available at certain times of the year or we look to cover for injuries.

"It is also vital that we have our best players in the best possible shape for the qualifiers, right now they are the games we will be measured against, they are the games that carry the greatest consequences, so they are the games I have made a priority in the next 12 months.

"I have spoken to everyone affected and they all understand what we are trying to achieve in the long term. Some had commitments that ruled them out of the Asia Cup already and some who were available are disappointed not be playing, but understand the big picture and long-term goals. I have no issue with that disappointment being expressed, knowing that it comes from a love for playing for their country."

Henare is currently on tour with the New Zealand Select team in China, keeping a close eye on players in contention for places on the team for the Asia Cup in August. That team will be selected in early July, with players coming into camp in Auckland on July 20 before departing to China for warm up games before arriving in Beirut ahead of the August 6 to 20 Asia Cup.

- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Basketball New Zealand