Legendary NBA giant Yao Ming in Auckland to support China in World Cup qualifier against NZ

China's greatest basketballer and NBA hall of famer Yao Ming has landed in New Zealand ahead of tomorrow's world cup qualification match between China and the Tall Blacks at Vector Arena in Auckland.

Dwarfing waiting media, it seemed only fitting the 2.29 metre tall legend would be unveiled at Auckland's Sky Tower.

The 37-year-old knows how important a win would be tomorrow night, given the Tall Blacks stunned China 82-73 in Dongguan back in February.

“It’s very important for us because New Zealand beat us at our home last time.”

In fact, the eight-time NBA all-star has tasted his own Kiwi defeat after the Tall Blacks recovered from a massive deficit to beat China in pool play at the 2002 world cup.

Since retiring in 2011, Yao has dedicated his time to improving the quality of basketball in China.

The hall-of-famer has his own tough memories of playing the Tall Blacks after a shock loss in the 2002 World Cup. Source: 1 NEWS


Watch: Tall Blacks make court shake with fearsome haka before World Cup qualifier

The Tall Blacks got their World Cup qualifier against Hong Kong off to a perfect start in Rotorua last night thanks to a rousing pre-game challenge.

The New Zealand men's basketball team performed their haka - Tu Kaha O Pango Te Kahikatea - prior to last night's game and were helped by Māori warriors.

The haka, which was composed Don Hutana and former Tall Black Paora Winitana, tells the story of how the Tall Blacks overcome great odds and challenges through their adventures.

It also draws from the story of Tāne and how he overcame adversity to gain the three baskets of knowledge.

Following the challenge, the Tall Blacks put on a dominant display to beat Hong Kong 124-65.

Six Kiwis finished the night in double figures for scoring while Shea Ili also contributed on offence and notched a game-high 10 assists.



Tall Blacks guard Tai Webster to play NBA Summer League with Miami Heat

Kiwi basketball star Tai Webster's chances of playing in the NBA have received a boost, with the Tall Blacks guard selected for the Miami Heat's roster for the upcoming Summer Leagues in Sacramento and Las Vegas.

Webster, 23, has just finished his first season of professional basketball, playing for the Fraport Skyliners in Germany, averaging just under 15 points per game, as well as 3.9 assists, and 3.1 rebounds.

His performances in the Basketball Bundesliga haven't gone unnoticed either, with the 2012 and 2013 NBA championship winners offering him the chance to impress.

Webster went undrafted out of Nebraska last year, although could find himself in with another shot of cracking into the NBA over the current off-season.

His older brother Corey Webster also had a stint in the NBA Summer League, playing for the New Orleans Pelicans during the 2015 pre-season.

Tai Webster (file picture). Source: Photosport