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12 Isaac Fotu (NZL)
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Fotu looks ahead to upcoming Qualifiers, considers cutting trademark hair if Tall Blacks finish on podium at China 2019

ULM (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers) - Isaac Fotu is known around the basketball world for his trademark hair, but the New Zealand big man would consider chopping it off should the Tall Blacks finish on the podium at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019.

Fotu has been recognized by his wild hair for years now, with the locks not having been cut since before he helped New Zealand win the title at the FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup 2011.

When asked if there was any way he would cut his hair, the 23-year-old Fotu answered: "How about if we made the top three in the World Cup. Then I'll cut it. That sounds like a good deal."

The road to China 2019 begins next month with the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers, and Fotu is expecting to be in Wellington on November 23 when New Zealand face off in the first game in Group A against Korea.

"The New Zealand coach Pauly (Henare) has already set up flights for me," Fotu told fiba.basketball. "We don't get many meaningful games to play at home, so it will definitely be exciting playing in front of our home crowd, actually playing for something. All my family will come down and watch that. I'm from Auckland and they will fly down. It should be good."

Fotu said he fully expects clearance to participate from his German club Ratiopharm Ulm.

"My Ulm coach and general manager know that they have to let me go for those windows, so I think that's going to happen."

Fotu also expects to be in Hong Kong for the second qualifier on November 26.

"I think so. That's the plan. I am not too sure how it all works out. But I'm looking to play in every game possible," Fotu added.

The 6ft 8in (2.03m) power forward expects New Zealand will grab a top-three finish in the qualifying Group A, which also includes China and Hong Kong, and then move onto the second group stage of Asian qualifiers.  

One of Isaac Fotu's biggest characteristics is his wild hair. 

"There are definitely some tough teams. China in China will definitely be very hard. And Korea is definitely a strong team as well. I remember playing against them in Korea and at home they are a tough team as well. I have never played against Hong Kong or seen them play, but we obviously cannot underestimate any opponent," Fotu said. "We'll have to get every win by as much as we can. That's our plan and that’s what we'll do."

But the obvious goal is reaching China 2019, which would be New Zealand's fifth straight appearance at the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

"We just have to play our brand of basketball that we're well known for - usually being undersized but always bringing a certain toughness in rebounding," Fotu said. "Hopefully being in FIBA Asia with a lot more qualifying spots it will make it a bit easier for us than in the past. We're just going to try to finish as high as we can to try to make it to China."

And who knows, maybe Fotu will even get a haircut come September 2019.