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Rusbatch on Tall Blacks' radar
CHRISTCHURCH (2015 FIBA Oceania Championship) - Former New Zealand point guard Mark Dickel has given a ringing endorsement of star swingman Ethan Rusbatch and expressed the hope that he'll be invited to try out for the Tall Blacks.
At stake will be a spot in the Rio de Janeiro Games, and Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare, a former New Zealand teammate of Dickel's, has yet to announce the preliminary squad.
Dickel is the head coach of the Canterbury Rams in New Zealand's NBL and Rusbatch, a swingman who has drilled 45 percent of his shots from long range this season, is one of his most important players.
"I'd like to think he would [be a triallist], but that's up to Paulie to decide who he wants," Dickel said on his club's website.
"He's one of the better players in the league.
"We don't have a lot of really good New Zealand players in the league, period.
"He's one of the better ones now."
Beginning to see a groundswell of support for Ethan to get a shot at the black singlet! http://t.co/CsFOYrxE6P— Canterbury BBall (@CantyBBall) June 18, 2015
Rusbatch has averaged 15.6 points per game this season, taking advantage of the offensive freedom that Dickel has afforded him.
Back in April, when he was proving to be a real menace against opponents, Rusbatch said: "I've put in a whole lot of work, so it would be pretty annoying if none of it paid off.
"It definitely shows. I'm shooting the ball a lot better."
The 1.96m Rusbatch hails from Christchurch.
He turned 23 last month so he is only scratching the surface of his potential.
"No one works harder than him," Dickel said.
"He's a great kid.
I have no doubt he's [Rusbatch] going to get better. - Dickel
"He's got the skillset now, whereas before he didn't really have the skillset.
"He was just a really good athlete.
"Now, he can really shoot the ball."
If Rusbatch is a possible call-up, the Tall Blacks appear to be making progress in their bid to get Steven Adams in the squad for the FIBA Oceania series.
Promising news - Steven Adams is "almost a sure thing" to play for the Tall Blacks http://t.co/8Vmbj2nm75— NZhoops (@NZ_hoops) June 18, 2015
Henare recently spoke about the possible incorporation of the Oklahoma City Thunder center into the Tall Blacks.
Following a meeting with Adams and an assistant coach on the Thunder staff, Henare said to 3news.co.nz: "Obviously he's a player who wants to play for New Zealand, we want to have him, but there are certain things that have to play out for that to happen.
"That's why I'm intentionally trying to keep things relaxed because they will happen one day, we've just got to keep working through.
"It was really good to sit down and talk with the both of them and it was more about building a rapport and relationship and keeping the communication lines open."
Adams has the potential to be a dominating player in the low post in the NBA.
He has already had some huge games for Oklahoma in his two seasons.