Steven Adams named in the Tall Blacks extended World Cup squad

Headlines 13/06/2019

Kiwi NBA star Steven Adams has been included on a 'long list' of Tall Blacks candidates for the upcoming Basketball World Cup.

But coach Paul Henare warns the invitation to attend a selection camp in August isn't confirmation that the Oklahoma City Thuder centre has made himself available yet.

"Basketball New Zealand has been in regular communication with Steve and his agency and management at OKC," says Henare. 

"We will look to conclude those conversations in the weeks ahead, but clearly Steve is a player we want wearing the black singlet."

Still, his inclusion suggests Adams hasn't ruled himself out yet, which is good news in itself.

The Rotorua native has never taken the court for the national men's team, preferring to rest up after his gruelling NBA schedule, since he was drafted in 2013.

Reports over the weekend suggested he had offered to play at the World Cup, only if Basketball NZ (BBNZ) agreed to channel the proceeds into grassroots development, but he hadn't received that assurance.

"He's adamant he doesn't want him playing to put money in the pockets of the administrators, but to help kids playing the sport," tweeted Sky Sport basketball commentator Huw Beynon.

But BBNZ rejected that claim, labelling it "inaccurate and misleading".

Adams would undoubtedly make New Zealand more competitive in a pool that includes higher-ranked pool opponents Greece, Brazil and Montenegro in China.    

"What he would bring to the team is international size,what he can do at the defensive end of the floor is phenomenal, with his ability to black and change shots, and what he does from a rebound perspective at both ends of the floor," says Henare.

 

"That is something we have rarely had at our disposal is that genuine size and athleticism at that pivot spot. Obviously, we would love to have him, but ultimately that decision comes down to Steve."

The notable absentee from the 25 names is centre Jack Salt, who helped University of Virginia to the US college title in March, but is currently preparing for NBA summer camp.

The extended squad will be cut to 14 for a pre-World Cup tour and then 12 for the tournament itself.

The full list of Tall Blacks trialists is:

Guards: Shea Ili (Wellington Saints/NZ Breakers), Tai Webster (Galatasaray), Jarrod Kenny (Bay Hawks/Cairns Taipans), Corey Webster (NZ Breakers), Ethan Rusbatch (Bay Hawks), Taylor Britt (Canterbury Rams), Kruz Perrott-Hunt (Nelson Giants), Taine Murray (Rosmini College)

Small forwards: Tom Abercrombie (Wellington Saints/NZ Breakers), Jordan Ngatai (Wellington Saints/NZ Breakers), Reuben Te Rangi (Wellington Saints/Brisbane Bullets), Dan Fotu (St Mary’s College of California)

Power forwards: Mika Vukona (Nelson Giants/Brisbane Bullets), Finn Delany (FMP Belgrade/NZ Breakers), Isaac Fotu (Ratiopharm Ulm), Max Darling (Vrijednosnice Osijek), Tom Vodanovich (Southland Sharks), Yanni Wetzell (Vanderbilt University), Tohi Smith-Milner (Melbourne United)

Centres: Rob Loe (Wellington Saints/NZ Breakers), Alex Pledger (Southland Sharks/Melbourne United), Steven Adams (Oklahoma City Thunder), Tyrell Harrison (Nelson Giants/Brisbane Bullets), Yuat Alok (University of Central Florida), Sam Timmins (University of Washington).

Credit to Newshub.