Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare has named three Hawks players in his New Zealand Select team to play six games on an intensive tour of China next month.
Taylor Corporation Hawks swingmen Ethan Rusbatch, Hyrum Harris and Mitchell Newton join Hawke's Bay guard Alonzo Burton, who captains Augusta Mountainairs, in a team to reinforce the paving of a pathway from the Sal's Pizza NBL.
All but one of the players and coaching staff members have come from the NBL.
"New Zealand Select is a great initiative and has already seen great results, with a number of players emerging from these tours to put pressure on others ahead of them in the pecking order, or for some to cement places in the MBO Tall Blacks," says Bay-born Henare.
"We selected a group of highly promising and mainly young talent from the Sal's NBL. We will place them in an international environment that will require them to go to a higher level and expose them to the challenges that international basketball can bring.
"While there is an element of development about this team, we are very clear that our goal is to win. When we step on the floor wearing black, there are certain standards and expectations that we place upon ourselves, let alone the expectations that the Chinese will have for us," says the former Hawks coach and captain.
The team will assemble on , August 6, immediately after the NBL Final Four playoffs weekend. They will play two games against Japan before departing for China on August 10.
In China they will play internationals against Cameroon, Montenegro and a regional Jiansu team, with games in Zhongshan, Shunde, Hangchen and Guangzhou.
■ Guards: Derone Raukawa, Isaac Letoa, Taylor Britt, Ethan Rusbatch, Alonzo Burton.
■ Forwards: Tony Tolovae, Hyrum Harris, Tom Vadonovich, Dominique Kelman-Poto, Mitchell Newton.
■ Centres: James Hunter, Michael Karena.