Young Tall Blacks romp to victory in Asia Cup opener

By James Perry

The New Zealand Tall Blacks opened their Asia Cup campaign with a 100-47 rout of India in Indonesia. 

The young squad, featuring four rookies and an average age of 23, dominated their opposition throughout the match, with Sam Mennenga top-scoring with 21 points and recording 9 rebounds in his debut. 

Mennenga was one of seven Tall Blacks players to reach double-digit points, with Taine Murray (13pts, 5 Reb), Taylor Britt (12 pts, 5 Reb) and 10 points apiece from Flynn Cameron, Sam Timmins, Taki Fahrensohn and Kruz Perrott-Hunt helping Pero Cameron's team rack up the points.


Highlights of the Tall Blacks opening match of the Asia Cup against India

A Davidson College forward, Mennenga says despite the 53-point drubbing, there is room for improvement as they continue to become familiar with each other.

"It just gives us our legs. It's the first time all of us have played together, so I think it's a step in the right direction.

"I think we can sharpen up on everything. I think we're good right now, we need to be great," he said after the game.

With an average age of 23, the Tall Blacks have called upon a number of players in the US College system for the Asia Cup, with Cameron, Perrott-Hunt, Mennenga and Murray combining to score more than half New Zeland's points.

Flynn Cameron, son of Basketball Hall of Famer, and Tall Blacks coach Pero, said there is a lot of confidence within the squad, if not for this tournament, but for the future for the Tall Blacks, with a number of regular stars unavailable.

"We're probably the youngest team here, so we're just setting the building blocks for the future."

The Tall Blacks expect to face a much tougher challenge in their next game, when they take on a highly-regarded Lebanon squad at 1am on Saturday, July 16.

That match will be live and exclusive on Whakaata Māori, Māori+ and maoritelevision.com