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Lindsay Tait (NZL)
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Henare announces touring Tall Blacks squad

AUCKLAND (2015 FIBA Oceania Championship) - New Zealand coach Paul Henare has whittled down his preliminary squad for the FIBA Oceania Championship following three days of trials in Auckland.

Finn Delany, Jordan Ngatai, Ethan Rusbatch, Samuel Timmins, Matthew Freeman, Casey Frank and Izayah Mauriohooho Le'afa have been cut loose and are not be with the 14-man group now training in Napier to get ready for the team's upcoming tour of Europe.

The Tall Blacks jet off to the old continent on 19 July.

Steve Adams is not in the 14-man touring party but the door is still open for the giant center of the Oklahoma City Thunder to join New Zealand and take part in the FIBA Oceania Championship against Australia.

In addition to numerous veterans in the touring squad, Henare is to take University of Kentucky-bound Tai Wynyard to Europe.

Wynyard recently won the FIBA U18 3x3 World Championships with New Zealand in Debrecen, Hungary, along with Freeman and Timmins.

Dion Prewster has been rewarded for a strong season with the Wellington Saints and a pair of Southland Sharks have been included in point guard Shea Ili and Duane Bailey.

The latter is also a member of the New Zealand Breakers team in the Australian NBL.

"One of the standout features of the past few days has been the quality of the young players coming through and putting pressure on some of the established Tall Blacks," Henare said.

"We have an exciting generation of talent emerging, one that combined with some of our leaders makes for an exciting group to work with.

Those that missed out all have bright futures and will be all the better for their time with us the past few days, but we could only name 14. - Henare

Henare is keen to have as much experience as possible in the FIBA Oceania Championship squad.

He is excited that point guard Lindsay Tait will be with the team.

"I am thrilled to say he is ready to go and fully committed to this program and the aim of defeating Australia next month, his experience in this group is vital alongside the likes of Mika [Vukona], Tom [Abercrombie], JK [Jarrod Kenny] and Corey [Webster]," Henare said.

All five of those players, as well as Isaa Fotu, Everard Bartlett and Robert Loe - three players in the 14-man squad - were in the New Zealand FIBA Basketball World Cup team that made it to the Round of 16 last year before falling to Lithuania.

On their tour of Europe, the Tall Blacks will take on Great Britain in London on 25 July and then go up against Croatia on 29 July and Slovenia on 30 July.

New Zealand will then travel to China for the Stankovic Cup, with the Chinese, Mexico and Venezuela and taking part.

They will return to Auckland for a training camp 11-13 August.

The opening game of the FIBA Oceania Championship is to be played 15 August in Melboure, Australia, and the second will be in Wellington, New Zealand, three days later.

We'll back ourselves against anyone in the world, that has always been the attitude in this team and you can be sure it'll continue under my watch. - Henare

The winners clinch a place in the Rio de Janeiro Games while the losers will play in the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT).

"This is a long campaign, we must be prepared to lose players to injury but if we do, I am confident we have the depth in most positions to cope," Henare said.

"We continue to talk with Steve [Adams] about his involvement and clearly he is a player we would love to have in our team so he may yet come in ahead of the games against Aussie."

"Our goal is very clear, the games on the way are all about preparing for Aussie in August.

"We will be underdogs, they will have a team stacked with NBA talent and are world ranked but we will bring our Kiwi culture and Tall Black pride every time we play ..."

"These boys have immense pride in themselves, their families and the basketball community, they know what it means to pull on the black singlet."

New Zealand squad to tour Europe ahead of 2015 FIBA Oceania Championship: Thomas Abercrombie, Duane Bailey, Everard Bartlett, Isaac Fotu, Leon Henry, Shea Ili, Jarrod Kenny, Robert Loe, Dion Prewster, Lindsay Tait, Reuben Te Rangi, Mika Vukona, Corey Webster and Tai Wynyard.