The average height of Rotorua's population just increased.

The Tall Blacks are in town ahead of their FIBA World Cup Qualifier against Hong Kong at the Energy Events Centre on Thursday night.

The squad of 14 is in full preparation mode and held a training session at the Southern Trust Sportsdrome yesterday.

Speaking after practice, head coach Paul Henare said their focus was to build on a successful training camp in Wellington last week.

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"Shea Ili wasn't there so we're bringing him up to speed and just reinforcing our systems and the way we want to play this week. We had some good moments and some not so good moments, we were a little bit rushed at times. That comes with working on different things and bringing guys up to speed who haven't been in the system for a while. It's a work in progress and we'll make the most of the time we have," Henare said.

The squad for Thursday night's game and the following qualifier against China in Auckland on Saturday has a good mix of youth and experience.

"I get excited no matter what Tall Blacks squad I'm with. It's the passion these guys have for the jersey, playing for their country and representing their whānau - there's nothing that excites me more."

Despite beating Hong Kong 133-74 in November, Henare said his side would not be taking their opposition lightly.

Isaac Fotu drives to the rim during Tall Blacks training in Rotorua on Monday. Photo/Stephen Parker
Isaac Fotu drives to the rim during Tall Blacks training in Rotorua on Monday. Photo/Stephen Parker

"It's international basketball - you have to respect the game and respect the opposition, so we're really focused on playing the game the right way and coming out and giving it everything. Hopefully we perform well and we also want to play the game the right way for the fans of Rotorua.

"We love [playing basketball in different regions of New Zealand]. It's not often we get to play basketball in New Zealand and not often that we get to come to places like Rotorua and play in front of different fans. It's something that this new format allows us to do, to take the game to the nation," he said.

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Captain Mika Vukona said the most exciting thing about the current squad was the youth.

"This is the up and coming guys who, in age, are young, but in experience are pretty old. To finally see that come to fruition is pretty exciting for me as one of the older guys," Vukona said.

He said the goal during the week, ahead of Thursday night's game, was to focus on themselves and get everyone up to speed.

Tall Blacks guard Dion Prewster (left) shows off his handles at practice in Rotorua on Monday. Photo/Stephen Parker
Tall Blacks guard Dion Prewster (left) shows off his handles at practice in Rotorua on Monday. Photo/Stephen Parker

"Just go through what the coaches want us to accomplish as a team. We looked really good, it looked like we'd only been in camp one day, but overall the guys showed lots of energy and enthusiasm. We'll just try and tidy everything up and smooth everything by the time we play on Thursday.

"[Captaining the Tall Blacks] is special every time. Obviously we have a whole group of leaders in this Tall Blacks team, the cream of the crop in New Zealand basketball, so to be able to lead and help out is a massive honour."

Thursday's game at the Energy Events Centre tips off at 7pm. Tickets are still available and can be bought from www.ticketmaster.co.nz