Following a brilliant performance against China in front of 8400 people at Spark Arena last month, Basketball New Zealand has announced that Wellington will host the MBO Tall Blacks final home World Cup Qualifier against Syria on 2 December.
The game will mark just over a year since the Tall Blacks played their first World Cup Qualifier on the same court, where they narrowly lost to South Korea. Head Coach Paul Henare says it’s fitting the team are returning to the court where this qualifying series began.
“This will be the last of these World Cup Qualifiers on home soil and Wellington is the perfect place for this game, the same court where we began our qualifying journey.
“The game last November in Wellington marked the chance for us to be finally playing regular and meaningful games at home in New Zealand. We would have liked to win that one for the Wellington fans who are passionately supportive of basketball – you just have to look at the brilliant turnout for the NBL Final Four at the start if the month.
“It will be great to go back and I know the boys will want to put on a show for the home crowd,” said Coach Henare.
The team will likely be at full strength as the Australian NBL and most of the major professional leagues around the world will take a break to allow players to represent their national teams.
Wellington’s Mayor Justin Lester says the event is welcome back to the Capital, particularly as live basketball events are in demand.
“It’ll be great to have the Tall Blacks back in town, especially as it’s the last chance for Kiwis to see them play in a World Cup Qualifier at home. They’re having a successful campaign, having finished the first round at the top of their pool and we’re hoping they can continue that success here in Wellington. The city cheered them on last November in their game against South Korea, and I’m sure there will be just as much excitement for this game,” added Mayor Lester.
Basketball New Zealand Chief Executive, Iain Potter, says playing Syria is another example of sport helping provide a different insight into foreign nations, particularly as some people will be surprised that Syria has a team competing at this level given the turmoil their country has faced during this decade.
“Basketball is a truly global sport. As New Zealand teams are now in the FIBA Asia Zone, we are in a group of more than 40 countries including those in the Middle East.
“Basketball is played very competitively through the Middle East with a number of countries having their own professional leagues. The games are brilliantly supported there, as the Tall Blacks found in Lebanon last year at the Asia Cup – the noise was deafening. I think that love of basketball in the Middle East might surprise some people. I look forward to welcoming team Syria, meeting and hosting them in New Zealand,” said Mr Potter today.
The Wellington game against Syria completes the three remaining home games for the Tall Blacks in the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers. The team’s two World Cup Qualifiers in February 2019 will be away games in Lebanon and Jordan.
The Tall Blacks next home game is against Lebanon in Rotorua next month on 17 September. Tickets available at Ticketmaster.co.nz
MBO Tall Blacks FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, ROUND TWO
Date | Opponents | Home/Away
AWAY: 13 Sep 2018 vs Syria, Nouhad Nawfal Stadium, Zouk Mikael, Lebanon
HOME: 17 Sep 2018 vs Lebanon, Energy Events Centre, Rotorua. Tip off 7pm
HOME: 29 Nov 2018 vs Jordan, Horncastle Arena, Christchurch
HOME: 2 Dec 2018 vs Syria, TSB Bank Arena, Wellington
AWAY: 22 Feb 2019 vs Lebanon in Lebanon
AWAY: 25 Feb 2019 vs Jordan in Jordan
MBO Tall Blacks FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, ROUND ONE
Date | Opponents | Home/Away
23 Nov 2017 vs Korea at TSB Bank Arena, Wellington. Result: Tall Blacks lost 80-86
26 Nov 2017 vs Hong Kong at Southourn Stadium, Hong Kong. Result: Tall Blacks won 133-74
23 Feb 2018 vs China at Dongguan Basketball Centre, China. Result: Tall Blacks won 82-73
26 Feb 2018 vs Korea at Jamsil Gymnasium, Seoul, South Korea. Result: Tall Blacks won 93-84
28 Jun 2018 vs Hong Kong at Energy Events Centre, Rotorua. Result: Tall Blacks won 124-65
1 Jul 2018 vs China vs Spark Arena, Auckland. Result: Tall Blacks won 67-57