Today Basketball New Zealand announced the two home-venues for the June and July window of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers.
On 28 June the MBO Tall Blacks will play Hong Kong at the Energy Events Centre in Rotorua, starting at 7pm. Then three days later, the Tall Blacks will take centre stage at Spark Arena in Auckland against China, on 1 July starting at 3:30pm.
Chief Executive of Basketball New Zealand, Iain Potter, says both arenas have worked hard to ensure their facilities meet FIBA’s specified requirements to host the qualifiers.
“To host the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, we need to meet FIBA requirements to ensure the games are going to be world class in both the arenas and through the broadcast. Both facilities have worked hard by investing in future games and meeting those requirements, including specified score boards, shot clocks and backstop units,” said Mr Potter today.
When the Hong Kong game tips off in Rotorua, it will be the first time in four years since Bay of Plenty basketball fans have seen the Tall Blacks play at a venue close to them.
“The Tall Blacks haven’t played in the Bay of Plenty since 2014 when they took on Korea in Tauranga, so we’re looking forward to returning to the region. It’s also exciting for us to help showcase one of New Zealand’s greatest tourist venues through what is a global event, these FIBA World Qualifier games are a big deal worldwide.”
Tickets for the Hong Kong test in Rotorua will be limited to 3500. A few days after that game, the crowd is expected to balloon in Auckland. Mr Potter believes the 9500 capacity Spark Arena will be essential to accommodate China’s fans. Not only are the Tall Blacks expecting a large number of visiting supporters, but team China will be well-supported by the expat community living in the area.
“A quick check of the 2013 census showed 112,290 people of Chinese ethnicity living in Auckland, so team China will undoubtedly have strong support in the city. The national Chinese basketball team is also the most supported team in their country. The players are superstars there and attract some of China’s biggest television audiences. In 2015 for example, the most viewed sports event in China was the FIBA Asia Basketball Championships with 339 million viewers on their public free-to-air television channel, CCTV. The final of that competition between China and the Philippines attracted 38.7 million viewers. And of course, with the travelling support that follows this China team around, we expect Spark Arena will be jumping.
“Of course Auckland is also the home of the SKYCITY Breakers – basketball support runs deep there. I’m sure we’ll see plenty of black and white balancing out the sea of red in the stands, especially considering the calibre of this event,” said Potter.
That said, this announcement won’t be registering on the Tall Blacks plans just yet. Before playing the two home games this coming winter, they have two away games first, which are exactly three weeks away from tip-off. The next FIBA window is from 19 to 27 February. The Tall Blacks will be playing China on 23 February in China’s Dongguan City. Then they travel to Seoul to seek revenge against Korea on 26 February, who the Tall Blacks were narrowly beaten by in Wellington last November. Both of those games will be broadcast by Maori Television:
24 February, 12:30am NZT: China v MBO Tall Blacks. Livestreamed on maoritelevision.com and delayed broadcast on Maori TV at 1pm, 24 Feb.
• 26 February, 11:30pm NZT: Korea V MBO Tall Blacks. Livestreamed on moaritelevision.com and broadcast on Maori TV 2330-0130.
Tickets for the home games – MBO Tall Blacks vs Hong Kong in Rotorua on 28 June and vs China in Auckland on 1 July – will go on sale in April or early May.
FIBA World Cup Qualifiers: Round 1, Group A – Tall Blacks Games
New Zealand is in Group A for the first window, along with China, South Korea and Hong Kong. The top three will progress and carry points through to next window of qualifying.
23 November v South Korea, in Wellington. (Tall Blacks lost 80 – 86)
26 November v Hong Kong, in Hon Kong. (Tall Blacks won 133 – 74).
23 February v China, Dongguan Basketball Center, China. (NZT: 12:30am 24 Feb).
26 February v South Korea, Jamsil Arena, Seoul. (NZT: 11:30pm).
28 June v Hong Kong, Energy Events Centre, Rotorua. 7pm.
1 July v China, Spark Arena, Auckland. 3:30pm.
• Read the longlist of 24 players named last October
• The meaning of Tu Kaha, the Tall Blacks haka
• Learn more about the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers (Asia Zone)
• Tall Blacks supporters gear can be purchased here
Follow the Tall Blacks’ social media channels: @TallBlacks Facebook
• Tall Blacks media releases
All Tall Blacks FIBA World Cup Qualifying games will be broadcast by Maori Television.