4 Jun 2012

Tall Blacks triallists named

12:02 pm on 4 June 2012

The New Zealand basketball coach Nenad Vucinic has invited 17 players to trial for the national men's team, including two Americans who are waiting on New Zealand citizenship.

Kevin Braswell and Marcel Jones have been named on the proviso they can gain citizenship before the trials begin on June 13 in Auckland.

If they succeed in time, they'll compete with Tall Blacks veteran Casey Frank for the one naturalised spot available on the national team roster.

The Tall Blacks will attempt to nail down one of three spots remaining in the London Olympics basketball draw.

Retirement, unavailability and injury have forced the absence of several incumbent Tall Blacks, including starters Kirk Penney and Tom Abercrombie, and opened up opportunities for others to step up to international basketball.

Seven of those trialling have yet to play for the Tall Blacks - Braswell, Jones, Hayden Allen, Josh Bloxham, Everard Bartlett, Morgan Natanahira and Tai Webster.

The trialists are:

Hayden Allen (Auckland Pirates), Josh Bloxham (Nelson Giants), Everard Bartlett (Bay Hawkes), Isaac Fotu (Harbour), Casey Frank (Wellington Saints), Leon Henry (Otago Nuggets), Jeremy Kench (Wellington Saints), Jarrod Kenny (Bay Hawks), Robert Loe (University of St Louis Missouri) , Morgan Natanahira (Bay Hawks), Alex Pledger (Auckland Pirates), Lindsay Tait (Auckland Pirates), Jeremiah Trueman (Manawatu Jets), Mika Vukona (Nelson Giants), Tai Webster (Auckland Pirates)

In the interests of player development, Vucinic and assistant coaches Pero Cameron and Paul Henare have also invited four juniors - Alonzo Burton (Bay Hawks), Michael Karena (Nelson Giants), Tohi Milner-Smith (Auckland Pirates) and Reuben Te Rangi (Harbour Heat) - to attend.

The Tall Blacks will contest the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Caracas, Venezuela, from July 2-8, and face Macedonia and Angola in pool play.