As if anyone needed reminding, Lebanon's Fiba World Cup qualifying overtime win over China in Beirut last week put into context the quality of opposition the home side will face in Rotorua tonight, with fans set to witness international basketball of the highest quality.
The two wins in Beirut move both teams to six-win, one-loss records, setting up a top-of-the-table clash between the two Asia World Cup Qualifying Group E leaders at the Rotorua Energy Events Centre, tipping off at 7pm.
Tall Blacks head coach Paul Henare said local fans were in for something very different to the June clash with Hong Kong at the same venue.
"No disrespect to Hong Kong, but they are a fledgling team at this level of international basketball and the game was somewhat one-sided. Monday night will be anything but, Lebanon are a proven international team with a great pedigree and proud record, they will want to continue their winning streak and will be coming to Rotorua full of intent and confident of a result.
"We too are ready, the honour of pulling on the black singlet is never greater than at home in front of friends and whānau, the boys have put so much effort into getting us to where we are now but know we achieved nothing yet.
"Each win gets us a step closer to qualifying for the World Cup, but each win is vital to also give us as high a seeding as we can get coming out of Asia, that will play a crucial part in determining our pathway once at the tournament, if and when we qualify.
"But all of that can only be achieved with a short-term focus, one game at a time and our entire attention is on Lebanon on Monday. The boys have travelled well, we will go hard at training today and put the finishing touches on preparation and hope to run out in front of a large crowd on Monday night.
"This game is truly global and takes us all around the world, into some places that most New Zealanders never contemplate travelling to, let alone our other national sports teams. Whether throughout Asia, the Middle East or on tours and camps in Europe, we face constant challenges with travel, different language and cultures and passionate and one-eyed home crowds, and we love it.
"But this is our chance to play in front of our people, with the noise in our favour – we hope Rotorua and the surrounding area supports us and come out in big numbers on Monday night, it will make the world of difference to the boys after a long journey home."
The entire roster is available for selection with everyone reporting fit and ready after the 38-hour journey back from Beirut, a journey which included a well-planned overnight stay in Singapore, with two good meals and six hours sleep helping the players readjust to the time zone back home and recovering from the game against Syria.
Tickets are still available for the game and can be bought at www.ticketmaster.co.nz or at the venue, with doors opening at 6pm.