The Tall Blacks will forgo the chance to be at the official Commonwealth Games regional opening ceremony being conducted in Cairns tonight, as they keep their heads down and focus on preparing for their opening game against Nigeria on Friday night.
With the team having limited time in camp to prepare for the Games, the decision was made to stick to the training plan and stay on court this evening, rather than be a part of the welcome celebrations.
“Originally, we were only going to be arriving into Cairns today anyway, and that was also going to take us out of the opening,” said Head Coach Paul Henare. “Our schedule changed though with the unavailability of a training venue on the Gold Coast, so we came up here a few days earlier than intended.
“And while we are looking for that balance between soaking up the experience and enjoying being a part of the Games and the wider New Zealand team, we must remember what our primary focus is, and that is all about performance and how to best prepare for this tournament, and in particular the opening game against Nigeria on Friday.”
Henare says now they are in Cairns, the two-day visit to the Gold Coast village has proven even more vital for the team to appreciate the wider context of what they are trying to achieve.
“Our time on the Gold Coast was brilliant, especially as we are to a degree quite isolated now in what is very much a basketball environment up here in Cairns. That couple of days spent amongst the other teams and athletes and understanding the support we have from the NZOC was great for the group.
“We watched with pride some of the footage from the flag bearer ceremony last night - how cool was that for Sophie and her family to have such an honour, and what a great choice by Rob Waddell and the team to choose such an inspirational athlete to lead New Zealand into the stadium tonight, we would love to be there or indeed at the ceremony in Cairns tonight, but will have our heads down working hard in practice.”
That hard work has been the order of the day throughout the camp, with Henare pleased with the work of the team to this point.
“The boys have been working their buts off in training, we have been going twice a day most days, finding that combination of getting into the ideal physical conditioning, while also working on the play book and being ready to go come Friday.”
SCHEDULE: Check guides for coverage of the 2018 Games, broadcast by Television New Zealand
Tall Ferns Pool Games (tip-off times all NZT)
Vs Malaysia, 5 April, 11.00pm
Vs Jamaica, 7 April, 1.30pm
Vs India, 8 April 7.30pm
Tall Blacks Pool Games (tip-off times all NZT)
Vs Nigeria, 6 April, 10:00pm
Vs Australia, 7 April, 11:00pm
Vs Canada, 9 April, 8:30pm