The New Zealand national anthem will be solely sung in Te Reo Māori at the Tall Blacks top of the table clash with Lebanon in Rotorua tonight.

FIBA rules allow only one minute for a teams pre-game ritual, with most teams meeting that requirement with their anthem. New Zealand is the only nation in the FIBA competition to be granted an additional minute for their haka, Tū Kaha O Pango Te Kahikatea. Yet the additional time is not enough for the Tall Blacks to complete both versions of the anthem and their haka, with proceedings running overtime and into the three minute countdown to tip-off.

Basketball New Zealand Chief Executive, Iain Potter, says the organisation was required by FIBA to reduce the teams pre-game ritual to within the allocated two minutes.

"We understand where FIBA are coming from and the fact that we have one more minute than any other team in the world is a privilege, not a right. Its important that we respect that rule and the opposition too.

"The last three minutes before tip-off are for the teams to complete their warm-ups. We agree that, although the opposition have been respectful of the haka, we should not be cutting into their warm-up time.

"Cutting Tū Kaha was not an option. Were likely to alternate the English and Māori versions of the anthem at FIBA matches, and sing the full version when the rules allow. We feel this is the only way to honour both versions of our anthem, and our haka.

"Its not ideal leaving one version silent as, of course, Kiwis are patriotic about both. Yet our haka and our team are also about respect for the opposition, we believe this way is our best solution to honour both our nation and the one we are facing," said Mr Potter.

When asked why the version in Te Reo Māori got first pick, Potter said it felt right that way, but last weeks celebration of Māori language played a part too.

"Its a fitting time with Māori Language Week just finishing. Its wonderful how Kiwis have celebrated Te Reo Māori this last week and to see it used so regularly in the media," said Potter.

The Tall Blacks face Lebanon tonight at the Energy Events Centre in Rotorua at 7pm. Tickets at www.ticketmaster.co.nz

The game will be broadcast live and free-to-air on Maori Television from 7pm on Channels 19 (Sky TV) and 5 (Freeview). It will also be livestreamed on www.maoritelevision.com.

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