6 Jul 2016

Tall Blacks begin last chance Olympic push

10:05 am on 6 July 2016

The New Zealand men's basketball team begin their last chance Olympic qualification tournament overnight, with their opening game against hosts Philippines.

The Tall Blacks forward Isaac Fotu in action.

The Tall Blacks forward Isaac Fotu in action. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Philippines are coached by former New Zealand mentor Tab Baldwin.

The Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare says New Zealand and the Philippines are two of the smallest sides at the tournament, which should make for a good game.

"We match up reasonably well, they are one of the smaller teams - size wise they compare to us pretty well, they might still be a little bit bigger, but guys like Isaac Fotu and Mika Vukona (Tall Blacks forwards) always play bigger than the stat sheet might suggest, it will be a big battle."

The game will be played in front of of a sold-out crowd of 16,000 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Henare says the New Zealanders mental fortitude will be tested by the vocal and parochial fans in basketball crazy Manila.

"A lot of it will be mental, there will be distractions in terms of atmosphere, what's on the line and what we have come here to do. But I think the work we have put in over the last three or four weeks will put us in good stead to be as ready as we possibly can."

The game tips off at 1am Thursday morning (NZ time).