Last month Rotorua basketball fans were treated to an impressive performance by the Tall Blacks against Hong Kong and now the New Zealand side have announced they will be back.
The Tall Blacks will play Lebanon at Rotorua's Energy Events Centre on September 17 as part of the next window of FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualifiers.
Basketball New Zealand chief executive Iain Potter said the Tall Blacks planned to play at least two games in Rotorua this year, in support of Rotorua Lakes Council which invested in upgrading the Energy Events Centre to meet FIBA standards for high-level internationals.
"One of the early challenges we faced in these World Cup qualifiers was meeting the FIBA standards required to host these matches. We've found a number of regions have been eager to host international basketball and have worked hard to meet those standards.
"Rotorua Lakes Council hosted a great game against Hong Kong in June. Now the Tall Blacks will face a far tougher test against Lebanon, so we're thrilled to return and look forward to seeing the fans flock back to support the boys."
Rotorua councillor Charles Sturt, who leads the council's sport and recreation portfolio, said the Tall Blacks would be welcomed back with open arms.
"It's fantastic that our Energy Events Centre is now able to host international basketball. Our first Tall Blacks game was a real winner with the fans, especially youngsters who got to engage with their heroes and see there is a pathway to the top.
"To have another match coming our way already is really exciting and means the investment in ensuring we meet the requirements for international basketball is paying off. Attracting high-calibre events like this is an opportunity to showcase Rotorua and keep us on the map with event organisers and promoters."
It is sure to be a loud night as Lebanon are followed by a legion of their own fans. They boast one of the loudest crowds that the Tall Blacks have played in front of.
Tall Blacks head coach Paul Henare said when the Tall Blacks played Lebanon in Beirut it was "one of the most frenetic" crowds the team had experienced.
"In August 2017 we played Lebanon at the Asia Cup in front of their home crowd. The noise in the stadium was truly deafening, with the home support like nothing the Tall Blacks had experienced before.
"Players could not hear each other from a few feet away, let alone hear anything from the bench due to the feverish crowd support. I know Lebanon's fans are among the most passionate in the world and I certainly expect there will be some Lebanese flags flying in Rotorua in September.
"Thankfully I know the Tall Blacks fans are strong in Rotorua. The boys loved playing there. We're looking forward to returning and taking on the mighty Cedars with the locals behind us."
The Tall Blacks won that Asia Cup game against Lebanon 86-82, but that was two years ago. The Lebanese side which will travel to New Zealand were unlucky not to top Pool C in round one of the qualifiers. They finished the first round with five wins and one loss.
Tall Blacks FIBA World Cup Qualifiers - Round Two
September 13 v Syria. Away.
September 17 v Lebanon. Energy Events Centre, Rotorua.
November 29 v Jordan. Horncastle Arena, Christchurch.
December 2 v Syria, Home (venue TBA).
February 22, 2019 v Lebanon. Away.
February 25, 2019 v Jordan. Away.