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Steven Adams named in Tall Blacks' 25-man squad for World Cup - 'Ultimately, the decision comes down to him'

Kiwi NBA superstar Steven Adams has been named in the Tall Blacks' World Cup squad while availability discussions are ongoing.

Coach Paul Henare named a 25-man squad for this year's World Cup in China today with the Oklahoma City Thunder centre amongst the names included.

Henare said Adams' naming is not a confirmation of the Kiwi centre’s availability but allows for conversations to continue and for Adams to be available for selection to China if he does make that call.

Adams has never played for the national team, revealing last year he felt little connection with Basketball New Zealand.

As a youngster, he couldn't afford to play for age-group teams.

"Some might expect me to be the Basketball New Zealand poster child, but I did the opposite of rising through the ranks of the junior national teams," he said in his book My Life, My Fight.

"Being in a national team is far too expensive for most kids - me included.

"Basketball New Zealand has been in regular communication with Steve and his agency and management at OKC," Henare said.

"We will look to conclude those conversations in the weeks ahead, but clearly Steve is a player we want wearing the black singlet.

"What he would bring to the team is international size, what he can do at the defensive end of the floor is phenomenal, with his ability to block and change shots and what he does from a rebounding perspective at both ends of the floor.

"That is something we have rarely had at our disposal is that genuine size and athleticism at that pivot spot. Obviously we would love to have him, but ultimately that decision comes down to Steve."

Henare said the "long-list" squad of 25 will be reduced to 14 to travel to a World Cup preparation camp in Japan before a final 12 are selected for the World Cup.

One US-based centre the squad will be without is Jack Salt who has made himself unavailable for selection while he tries to transition from college to professional basketball after winning the NCAA title with Virginia earlier this year.

Breakers players named in the squad include the likes of Shea Ili, Corey Webster, Tom Abercrombie, Jordan Ngatai, Finn Delany and Rob Loe.

The named squad will gather in Auckland on August 1 before leaving for Japan five days later. 

Tall Blacks World Cup Squad:

Guards: Shea Ili (Wellington Saints/NZ Breakers), Tai Webster (Galatasaray), Jarrod Kenny (Bay Hawks/Cairns Taipans), Corey Webster (NZ Breakers), Ethan Rusbatch (Bay Hawks), Taylor Britt (Canterbury Rams), Kruz Perrott-Hunt (Nelson Giants), Taine Murray (Rosmini College).

Small forwards: Tom Abercrombie (Wellington Saints/NZ Breakers), Jordan Ngatai (Wellington Saints/NZ Breakers), Reuben Te Rangi (Wellington Saints/Brisbane Bullets), Dan Fotu (St Mary's College of California).

Power forwards: Mika Vukona (Nelson Giants/Brisbane Bullets), Finn Delany (FMP Belgrade/NZ Breakers), Isaac Fotu (Ratiopharm Ulm), Max Darling (Vrijednosnice Osijek), Tom Vodanovich (Southland Sharks), Yanni Wetzell (Vanderbilt University), Tohi Smith-Milner (Melbourne United).

Centres: Rob Loe (Wellington Saints/NZ Breakers), Alex Pledger (Southland Sharks/Melbourne United), Steven Adams (Oklahoma City Thunder), Tyrell Harrison (Nelson Giants/Brisbane Bullets), Yuat Alok (University of Central Florida), Sam Timmins (University of Washington).

Steven Adams (12) of the Oklahoma City Thunder watches a replay after being called for fouling Nikola Jokic (15) of the Denver Nuggets during the first quarter on Tuesday, February 26, 2019. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Steven Adams looks up during an NBA game. Source: Getty


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