Europe stands as the key for the Junior Tall Blacks preparations ahead of the FIBA under-19 world championships in July. A lack of quality opposition is one thing that Coach Daryl Cartwright is looking to avoid heading into Egypt.
There is a lot to think about for Cartwright who knows that the quality of opposition on this side of the world is minimal. There are also logistical issues with gathering the team and attaining international fixtures according to the Tall Blacks coach, “Two biggest points for that is one, for us to get there and get quality opposition against European teams, to test us in our build-up. And the other is that we’re getting closer to the time zone in Cairo.”
The juniors are in Pool A and have been landed with Korea, and an American qualifying league team who is yet to be announced. However, the have also managed to seed themselves in the same pool as powerhouses and European champions France.
“They’ve got some exceptional talent in their group that could potentially even go in the NBA draft. Probably behind America, they’re the second ranked team in this qualification for the World Cup.”
Another team up Cartwright’s sleeve that he may wish to use are the NZ Breakers, who are now out of the ANBL finals. Prior to the FIBA Oceania qualifiers, the Development players were released stand in as opposition for the under-19’s.
“That was our build-up. We had two really good tough scrimmages for our boys and got beaten up by bigger stronger guys.”
Cartwright, who also heads the basketball academy at Mount Albert Grammar, has also issued a challenge to those wishing to gain selection ahead of the world championships.
"In those camps, we’ll be looking at the twelve that were selected, plus the extended squad. We need to challenge each other for those positions and everyone has to earn their spot again."
The Junior Tall Blacks will meet up once a month for camp before departing for Europe in June. The FIBA under-19 world champions start on July 1st in Cairo, Egypt.