11 Dec 2019

Tall Blacks name Cameron as coach

10:16 am on 11 December 2019

Tall Blacks legend Pero Cameron has been named as the New Zealand men's basketball team head coach.

Assistant coach Pero Cameron of New Zealand takes part in a training session at the Basketball World Cup in China.

Pero Cameron is the new Tall Blacks coach. Photo: Photosport

Cameron replaces Paul Henare who stepped down from the role last month.

The FIBA Hall of Famer's appointment to the role is for the short term, taking the Tall Blacks to the Tokyo Olympic Games, should New Zealand qualify through the Asian Cup qualifying games and then the Olympic Games repechage tournament in Serbia in June.

Although Cameron said he wants to the role for a longer term.

"Of course, I want this job longer term, that is something out of my control though," Cameron said.

"I am just focused on the job at hand, the qualifying window in February and the Olympic qualifying tournament in June. I think all coaches want that long term security, but for now that is the hand I am given, and we will go and take care of business."

Cameron enjoyed a stellar career in the black singlet and is the third highest cap player in Tall Blacks' history with 154 games, including playing at the Sydney and Athens Olympics.

So he knows how big of an impact another appearance at the Olympics would have on the game in New Zealand.

"The Olympics is huge, not just for me, but for the players, the whole group and support staff and for the future of the game in New Zealand. If we can get back to the Olympics, it truly puts us on the map, to be competing with the best in the world in front of family, friends and the basketball community back home."

For the past eight years, Cameron has worked as an assistant coach with the Tall Blacks and will retain current assistant coach Ross McMains in his coaching team.

Cameron's appointment means minimal disruption to the playing group.

Finn Delany drives to the basket.

Tall Black Finn Delany Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"Continuity is important to this group right now, the past few years has seen us bring in so many new and young players," he said.

"From the Asia Cup to the qualifying windows, we have brought in many new players and exposed them to what Tall Blacks basketball is all about. It is important that we don't lose that investment and go back to square one with a new system or new staff."

Cameron said coaching the Tall Blacks is a unique job in international basketball coaching.

"Culture and understanding who we are is everything," he said.

"Previous coaches like Tab, Keith, Nenad, Pauli - they were all part of the team as players or lived and worked in New Zealand for years and understood who we are as a people and how we do things.

"And as Kiwis it is important to understand that we do things differently to most other countries. Sometimes we have to due to a lack of time together or resource available to us as a team, but for the most part we have a style, we adjust to our competitors differently, we plan differently and as we showed at the World Cup, we do things our way to get the best out of our team."

Cameron first made the Junior Tall Blacks when he was 16, so he is coming up on 30 years representing the black singlet in one way or another.

Since retiring as a player in 2010, 45-year-old Cameron has been constantly involved in coaching at a variety of levels including winning back-to-back New Zealand NBL championships with the Wellington Saints.