The Tall Ferns are through to the last four at the Commonwealth Games and now face their biggest challenge yet, Australia on home soil in front of a fanatic Commonwealth Games crowd.
Tall Ferns Head Coach Guy Molloy is taking a matter-of-fact approach to the semi-final match up, and isn’t thinking too far ahead.
“You usually judge performance at international tournaments as to whether you are in the quarter-finals or not, it seems to be the dividing line between success and failure. The whole thing has been new and fresh for us, and I would love us to advance further in the tournament. However I am a diehard when it comes to the old coaching cliché of one game at a time.”
When pushed on the subject of the Tall Ferns semi-finals opponent, he was pragmatic, clearly aware that the Australian Opals are the fourth ranked nation in the world and the red hot favourites to clinch the gold medal.
“It’s a chance for us to test ourselves against one of the top FIBA ranked teams.”
On the subject of playing style and the Tall Ferns long-term goals, Molloy was more forthright.
“We have to create a new style of play for women’s basketball in New Zealand. Are we achieving that? Hopefully we are and people can see that we have a vision. No matter what happens next, I’m hoping that’s becoming apparent,” he said.
Micaela Cocks, a thirteen-year veteran of the team is one who is enjoying Molloy’s coaching philosophy. Already a Commonwealth Games medallist having won silver in 2006 when basketball was last included in the Games, she is revelling in the positive attitude the team has.
“We know there are harder teams to come that we have to face, but we are feeling confident and enjoying the style of play we are playing right now.”
Cocks says she is particularly enjoying the emergence of teenagers Zara Jillings and Charlisse Leger-Walker on the international stage.
“It’s great to see people like Charlisse and Zara coming through. It’s been one of the highlights for me so far, seeing what they can do and having them as teammates. I can also say I’ve now played with Leanne, Krystal and now Charlisse, which is really special,” Cocks added.
Leanne Walker, a two time Olympian is of course Charlisse’s mother, and Krystal is CHarlisse’s older sister, who is a sophomore at Northern Colorado University having also played for the Tall Ferns as a teenager.
The mood is certainly positive ahead of the semi-final clash on Friday, a game that will tip-off at 11.00pm (NZT).