Anthony Joins Tall Blacks
The inclusion of Harbour Heat forward BJ Anthony is the only change to the New Zealand Tall Blacks team ahead of next week’s FIBA Oceania Championship against the Australia Boomers.
Anthony, the son of former National Basketball League legend Benny Anthony, will become the fifth rookie to pull on a Tall Blacks uniform in 2009.
The 21-year-old comes into third-year coach Nenad Vucinic’s team for the two-game Oceania series with Jeremiah Trueman unavailable from the Tall Blacks’ European tour.
Long-time Tall Blacks captain Pero Cameron and forward Craig Bradshaw were both ruled out of selection.
Cameron has been unable to recover sufficiently from a persistent ankle injury, while Bradshaw departed on Sunday for South Korea, where he has taken up a contract in the Korean Basketball League. Trueman heads to San Diego this week to be with his wife Mary for the birth of their first child.
“In terms of international experience, especially in leading roles, it’s a pretty young squad,” said Vucinic.
“Not having Pero or Craig is disappointing. We had a good tour of Europe without them and were happy with what we achieved. We competed well against some tough teams.
“BJ had a good trial and reports about his change in attitude around training have been positive and he deserves his chance . . . Jeremiah has decided that he needs to go back to the States for the birth of his first child and we respect that.”
Shooting guard Kirk Penney, who led the team in Cameron’s absence on the eight-game European sojourn, will take the captain’s ‘C’ again, joined by point guard Lindsay Tait and forwards Mika Vukona and Casey Frank in the experienced heart of the roster.
Combo guards Michael Fitchett and Corey Webster, and centre Alex Pledger also have at least two national team tours behind them.
Anthony joins Tom Abercrombie, Leon Henry, Jarrod Kenny and Junior Tall Black Rob Loe as 2009 rookies for the Tall Blacks team, which has an average age of 24.
“I’m just really excited to get back into the team and to go to work,” said Anthony, who played professionally in the German second division last northern hemisphere winter.
“Honestly, I thought my chance had gone this year. I was just getting ready to go back to Germany again and then come back and push harder next year. It’s great to get the chance this year and I’m looking forward to it.”
The Tall Blacks assemble in Wellington for a four-day camp before heading to Sydney, ahead of game one at the Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre at 8pm (NZ time) on Sunday.
The team returns to New Zealand on Monday, with game two at TSB Bank Arena in Wellington on Tuesday, August 25 at 7.30pm.
New Zealand Tall Blacks
Tom Abercrombie, BJ Anthony, Michael Fitchett, Casey Frank, Leon Henry, Jarrod Kenny, Rob Loe, Kirk Penney (captain), Alex Pledger, Lindsay Tait, Mika Vukona, Corey Webster
Head coach: Nenad Vucinic
Assistant coach: Chris Tupu
Video technician: Dillon Boucher
Manager: Grant Chapman
Physio: Bryce Ebben
Tall Blacks Schedule
Tuesday, August 18
Team assembles for camp in Wellington
Friday, August 21
Team travels to Sydney
Sunday, August 23
FIBA Oceania Championship for Men, Game 1
vs Australia Boomers, 8pm (NZ time)
Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre
Live on Sky Sport 1
Monday, August 24
Team travels to Wellington
Tuesday, August 25
FIBA Oceania Champion for Men, Game 2
vs Australia Boomers, 7.30pm
TSB Bank Arena, Wellington
Live on Sky Sport 2 (HD)