Tall Blacks prepare for long haul, short turnaround

By James Perry

Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare has begun preparations for the next round of the FIBA World Championships qualifiers that begin in September. 

The Tall Blacks will play Syria, Lebanon and Jordan in a series of home and away games.  Beginning with Syria in Lebanon on September 13. 

Henare will shortly begin to analyse the Syrian and Lebanese matches from the first round of Asian qualifiers, but isn't expecting too much different from what he saw in the Asian Cup in 2017.

The Tall Blacks played Jordan and Lebanon there, so their first-hand knowledge will "help in terms of knowing their personnel, and style of play." 

One major obstacle Henare hopes his side can overcome is the vastness of the Asian zone, and the short window in which games can be played.

Their first game is in Lebanon against Syria on September 13, with a travel time of around 30 hours each way it means his side will have very little time to prepare to play Lebanon 4 days later in Rotorua.

Added to the concern is the financial position they find themselves in at present.

Henare says, "Right now they're in the back of the plane, but we're always looking for support and help in getting the boys to the front of the plane...for these guys to play a game, travel over 24 hours and then [get] back up 24 later is a big ask."

The Tall Blacks play a round-robin style series beginning in September, with the top three teams automatically qualifying for a place in the World Championships in China next year.