Tall Blacks powerhouse Isaac Fotu turns down NBA invitation to play World Cup qualifier - 'It didn't take long to decide'

Tall Blacks star Isaac Fotu has revealed he turned down a chance to impress scouts at the NBA's annual off season talent showcase to play in this afternoon's World Cup qualifier against China - a decision he felt was fairly easy to make.

Fotu, who led the Tall Blacks' scoring today with 15 points in their 67-57 win, was invited to play with Eastern Conference finalists the Boston Celtics at this year's Summer League but he chose country over NBA.

The power forward said after today's game he was invited to the tournament but would have had to fly out yesterday morning, meaning who would've missed today's game.

"I thought about it for 1-2 seconds and then realised how much I love playing for this team, playing with my brothers and we had a home game in Auckland in front of my friends and family. To be honest, it didn't take long at all to decide that.

"It doesn't matter to me. We're going to enjoy tonight and we'll see about [any other opportunities] next week."

Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare wasn't so quick to disregard the decision though.

"That's what makes this team so special, when guys are willing to get out here and go to battle with their brothers," said Henare. "That's a pretty special decision to make but he told me it didn't take him long which emphasises that even more.

"It's unbelievable for it to be a no-brainer decision for him. The pride these guys have in playing for their country is amazing."

Tall Blacks Issac Fotu (L) jumps to take a pass with Korea's Jongkyu Kim during the Basketball World Cup qualifier match between the Tall Blacks and Korea at TSB Arena in Wellington on Thursday the 23 November 2017. Copyright Photo by Marty Melville / www.Photosport.nz
Tall Black Issac Fotu jumps to take a pass with Korea's Jongkyu Kim during the Basketball World Cup qualifier match. Source: Photosport


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Steven Adams takes the mickey, flexes and shows off body-building poses during media photo shoot

Oklahoma City Thunder star Steven Adams may possibly have a post-NBA modelling career, after showcasing some hilarious poses during a media photo shoot today.

The seven foot (2.13m) tall Thunder centre flexed and pulled out some body-building poses, which had cameramen and photographers laughing during his side's media day session.

During his press conference earlier today he hit reporters with some classic one-liners, answering questions about whether he would implement three-pointers to his game this season.

"Shoot a three? No, absolutely not," said Adams.

The OKC star had reporters laughing as usual after some classic one-liners during today's media day. Source: OKC Thunder

"Maybe preseason, I've got to see mate - don't want to lose my job. It's tough."

The Thunder begin their 2018/2019 NBA pre-season at home next month on October 4, against the Detroit Pistons.

The 25-year-old was on fire during today’s OKC media session. Source: Twitter/ @SneakerReporter


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'Don't want to lose my job': Steven Adams dishes on three-pointers & being 'awkward Kiwi guy'

Oklahoma City Thunder star Steven Adams kept reporters entertained as per usual with his classic one liners during a press conference today.

But he refrained from revealing entirely whether he would add three-pointers to his game this season.

A reporter questioned Adams on whether he would finally attempt a three-pointer in the NBA this season, after a number of videos on social media showed the Kiwi centre sinking shots from behind the arc in training.

"Shoot a three? No, absolutely not," said Adams.

"Maybe preseason, I've got to see mate - don't want to lose my job. It's tough."

The 25-year-old went on to describe himself as an ordinary, awkward New Zealander to another reporter.

"You can just say I'm a Kiwi guy, awkward Kiwi guy, keep it simple."

The Thunder begin their 2018/2019 NBA pre-season at home next month on October 4, against the Detroit Pistons.

The OKC star had reporters laughing as usual after some classic one-liners during today's media day. Source: OKC Thunder


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Basketball NZ, Tall Blacks take aim at FIBA after pinning 'ugly' win against Lebanon on tough travel schedule

Basketball New Zealand has re-ignited its call for more High Performance Sport New Zealand funding while also taking a shot at FIBA after the Tall Blacks moved to the cusp of World Cup qualification.

The Tall Blacks’ 63-60 win over Lebanon in Rotorua was marred by a poor shooting performance in which the hosts only netted 28 per cent of their attempted shots.

Both teams struggled after a marathon 43-hour travel schedule which saw the Tall Blacks leave Beirut at shortly after their 107-66 win over Syria last Friday

They arrived in Rotorua on Sunday morning at 2:30am.

Head coach Paul Henare said the draining journey reflected in the match.

"It was just a bit disappointing with the scheduling from FIBA that it had to be a grind out game," he said.

"It was never going to be pretty, it was always going to be ugly and I'm sure that's not what FIBA are trying to achieve."

Basketball NZ CEO Iain Potter says the sport’s governing body needs to look at the bigger picture.

"I don't think FIBA has fully appreciated the travel logistics to get from the Middle East to New Zealand.

"It's no surprise the players were demonstrating some mental and physical fatigue."

But the travel has also reiterated Basketball NZ's calls for more government funding.

Each window costs the organisation NZ$100,000 and this year’s series of qualifiers are particularly taking its toll, Potter said.

"We are going to run at a loss this year because of the four windows in this calendar year.

"It constrains us at times in terms of what we can do with the team."

And their case is now becoming stronger to HPSNZ.

World Cup qualification is within reach with home wins over Jordan and Syria later this year likely enough to book their ticket to China.

Both teams struggled in last night’s World Cup qualifier after clocking up 43 hours of travel earlier this week. Source: 1 NEWS


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Watch: Lebanon falter in final seconds to Tall Blacks' desperate defence as game-winning shot misses rim completely

The Tall Blacks have claimed a miraculous 63-60 comeback win in their World Cup qualifier match against Lebanon tonight thanks to clutch free throw shooting and desperate defence.

The Tall Blacks were playing catch up for almost the entire match in Rotorua with poor shooting from the field seriously hindering their cause.

The home side shot just under 28 per cent from the field in tonight’s game – seriously behind their opponents who shot 38 per cent.

The main issue came from behind the arc with the Tall Blacks making just four of 23 three-point attempts.

It saw them fall behind to a 7-18 deficit after the first quarter, but strong plays from the Webster brothers and Shea Ili saw them claw back to sit 25-25 at halftime.

The game remained a seesaw of poor shooting until the final minute of the match with Lebanon leading 60-59.

Lebanon held possession as the clock ticked down but New Zealand’s defence forced a rare turnover as the visitors were called for travelling.

That led to big offensive play at the other end with Corey Webster putting up a two-pointer.

The shot missed but he managed to get his own rebound and dish the ball to Ili who went for a shot of his own but was fouled.

Ili remained composed at the free throw line to score both shots and give the Tall Blacks a 61-60 lead with 20 seconds left.

The defence again shut down Lebanon as they were forced into a miracle three-point shot with six seconds to go, but the shot missed the rim completely and was rebounded by Reuben Te Rangi.

Te Rangi then put the game on ice with another pair of made free throws.

After getting a late call up to the team, Corey Webster made his presence known in the match. The experienced guard finished with 11 points, four rebounds and two assists.

His efforts were matched by his brother Tai who scored 13 points along with seven rebounds, four assists and a steal.

With the win, the Tall Blacks sit top of their World Cup qualifier pool on seven wins from eight matches – one point ahead of Lebanon.

With the top three teams from each pool qualifying for the World Cup in China next year, the result boosts the Kiwi side’s chances immensely.

The Tall Blacks now have two months off before their next match when they host Jordan in Christchurch on November 29.


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