Experienced Tall Blacks ready for World Cup qualifying showdown against South Korea

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NZN

The Tall Blacks plunge into their Basketball World Cup qualifying campaign against South Korea in Wellington on Thursday with limited preparation and high expectations.

NZ coach Paul Henare has selected his 12-man squad to face South Korea tomorrow in Wellington.
Source: 1 NEWS

With just a few days together beforehand, and a quick turnaround to their next game away to Hong Kong on Sunday, coach Paul Henare has named an experienced 12 that he trusts to get the job done.

Europe-based stars Isaac Fotu and Tai Webster have returned, and are joined by Israel-based Corey Webster, along with a core of experienced Breakers players.

Henare says those strong team links will be key against a largely unknown Korean opposition.

"That sort of chemistry and synergy with teammates has a positive impact on the way you play," he said.

While the Tall Blacks have played South Korea as recently as August, Henare says there's little that can be taken from the two times the teams met at the Asia Cup tournament in Lebanon.

A developmental Tall Blacks team was beaten both times: 76-75 in pool play, and 80-71 in the bronze medal match.

"Obviously, playing them twice in Beirut gave us a good insight into the quality of players they have," Henare said.

"We really respect the style that they play and the skillset that they bring.

"We've tried to do as much as we can on the very limited amount of information we have on the Korean team."

New Zealand skipper Mika Vukona, who didn't make the trip to Lebanon for the Asia Cup, says the players that did - including vice-captain Reuben Te Rangi - have been able to give some valuable pointers on what to expect.

"They're obviously a well-drilled team, they're all excellent shooters across the board," he said.

"They're a team that moves really well without the ball, and we're expecting a physical game from them - they're a team that doesn't back down, and we've got a lot of respect for them."

Thursday's match is the first in a series of home and away matches against Korea, Hong Kong and China over a seven-month period as New Zealand look to qualify through the Asian zone for the 2019 World Cup in China.

Tall Blacks: Shea Ili, Tai Webster, Jarrod Kenny, Corey Webster, Reuben Te Rangi, Tom Abercrombie, Jordan Ngatai, Mika Vukona, Isaac Fotu, Tohi Milner-Smith, Alex Pledger, Rob Loe.

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