The MBO Tall Blacks go into tomorrow nights (2am Friday NZT) game against Syria well prepared and ready for a lift in intensity compared to their training camp and warm up games in Qatar.

With Syria coming into the final round of qualifying with a 2-win 4-loss record, Head Coach Paul Henare knows they will throw everything at his team, especially with the home court advantage in Beirut.

"These guys play hard, fast and they are anchored in the middle with some genuine size with their starting centre at 7 foot 3. They have some pieces we need to be aware of, we go in confident but at the same time respecting the opposition and focusing on playing the way we want to play.

"We have 12 guys that want to play and can play, they have shown that in training and in our scrimmages, they have all been training well and have proven to each other and to themselves that when their number is called they can contribute. That is what we rely on, we want to keep the pressure high at the defensive end and keep them on the back foot."

Henare says coming back to Beirut so soon after the 2017 Asia Cup is a benefit, with six players returning from that team that played their way into the semifinals.

"We have about half the guys that were here last August so from that point of view it is good to be back in a familiar setting, even for the guys that werent here it is good to be able to pass on accurate information about where we are, the stadium and what to expect. It will be cool to get our bearings back at the stadium, it is a different one to play in, but a fun place to play in as well."

Henare says along with pace, they have shooters that can stretch the floor, including their bigs with Rob Loe, Tohi Smith-Milner, Finn Delany and Isaac Fotu all capable outside the paint.

"All our bigs are shooting the ball well, Isaac has taken a year or so to get his comfort level back from the perimeter and is shooting the ball well, all our bigs can stretch the floor and that is how we want to play and bring their bigs out of the lane and make them pay if they dont get it right."

The team rounds out their preparation with a training session this afternoon local time, and tomorrows game day shootaround before the 5pm tip off. The team then returns to the hotel for a quick dinner and then heads straight to the airport to begin the journey home to face Lebanon in Rotorua on Monday September 17, tip off 7pm.

The game in Beirut is broadcast live on at 2am on Friday 14th September, with the press conference on the FIBA Youtube channel.

FIBA World Cup Qualifying

Along with China and Korea, New Zealand has crossed over into Group E, carrying points from their earlier group with them (5 wins, 1 loss), and will play home and away games against Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. Group F contains Australia, Iran, Philippines, Japan, Kazakhstan and Qatar.

The top three teams in each of the two final groups will qualify for China 2019, along with the best fourth placed team from the two final groups. Complicating the process is that China, as hosts of the World Cup, do not count in the final placings, but will continue to play out their remaining matches.

CLICK HERE for group standings and link to all remaining games

MBO Tall Blacks World Cup Qualifying

v Syria, September 13, Beirut, 5pm tip off local time (2am 14 September NZT. Broadcast on and press conference on FIBA Youtube. Boxscore here.)

v Lebanon, September 17, Rotorua, 7pm tip off, tickets at


Guards: Shea Ili, SKYCITY Breakers; Jarrod Kenny, Cairns Taipans; Ethan Rusbatch, Bay Hawks; Tai Webster, Galatasaray (Turkey);

Forwards: Reuben Te Rangi, Brisbane Bullets; Dion Prewster, Bay Hawks; Jordan Ngatai, SKYCITY Breakers; Isaac Fotu, Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany); Finn Delany, SKYCITY Breakers; Mika Vukona, Brisbane Bullets;

Centres: Rob Loe, Cairns Taipans; Tohi Smith-Milner, Melbourne United

Head Coach: Paul Henare

Assistant Coaches: Pero Cameron, Mike Fitchett

Physiotherapist: Anousith Bouaaphone

Massage Therapist: Shelley Moana Hiha

Manager: Andrew Dewhurst

MBO Tall Blacks FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, ROUND TWO

Date | Opponents | Home/Away

AWAY: 13 Sep 2018 vs Syria, Nouhad Nawfal Stadium, Zouk Mikael, Lebanon

HOME: 17 Sep 2018 vs Lebanon, Energy Events Centre, Rotorua. Tip off 7pm

HOME: 29 Nov 2018 vs Jordan, Horncastle Arena, Christchurch

HOME: 2 Dec 2018 vs Syria, TSB Bank Arena, Wellington

AWAY: 21 or 22 Feb 2019 vs Lebanon in Lebanon

AWAY: 24 or 25 Feb 2019 vs Jordan in Jordan

MBO Tall Blacks FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, ROUND ONE

Date | Opponents | Home/Away

23 Nov 2017 vs Korea at TSB Bank Arena, Wellington. Tall Blacks lost 80-86

26 Nov 2017 vs Hong Kong at Southourn Stadium, Hong Kong. Tall Blacks won 133-74

23 Feb 2018 vs China at Dongguan Basketball Centre, China. Tall Blacks won 82-73

26 Feb 2018 vs Korea at Jamsil Gymnasium, Seoul, South Korea. Tall Blacks won 93-84

28 Jun 2018 vs Hong Kong at Energy Events Centre, Rotorua. Tall Blacks won 124-65

1 Jul 2018 vs China vs Spark Arena, Auckland. Tall Blacks won 67-57

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