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Tall Ferns ready for the new challenge in Asia
The tournament, which is a qualifying event for the 2018 FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup, is to be staged 23-30 July in Bangalore, India.
"It’s a new competition, with new opponents and a chance to qualify for the World Cup," Tall Ferns coach Kennedy Kereama said. "The fact that four teams from Oceania and Asia qualify for the World Cup makes it a very realistic chance for us to progress."
Before, New Zealand had to beat international powerhouse and Oceania rivals Australia to reach the World Cup.
"There is every chance we may face Australia again in this tournament," Kereama said.
Australia are coming off a disappointing Olympic campaign which saw them fall 73-71 to Serbia in the Quarter-Finals. That setback led to a change at the helm, with former national team star Sandy Brondello taking the reins from Brendan Joyce.
I guess at the end of the day, you have to beat whoever is in front of you. That will certainly be our attitude going in, we never play games to lose and every opponent is going to be tough at this event.
Though Australia have been the traditional heavyweights, Japan have won the last couple of FIBA Women's Asia Cups and they promise to be tough opponents for the Opals in the battle for first place in Group B.
There will be plenty of incentive for New Zealand to win Group A as that would put them into a likely Quarter-Final against the Philippines, who will be big underdogs in Group B and expected to come in fourth.
Beating Australia, Japan or Korea would be far more problematic for the Tall Ferns as they attempt to clinch a spot in the World Cup.
"I guess at the end of the day, you have to beat whoever is in front of you," Kereama said. "That will certainly be our attitude going in, we never play games to lose and every opponent is going to be tough at this event."
Judging from New Zealand's performances at the FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament, the teams in Group B will also know they would have a tough 40 minutes in a potential Quarter-Final against the Tall Ferns.
"It is exciting to know we will have new teams to play against with varying styles of play," Kereama said on the Basketball New Zealand website.
"However, most of our focus needs to be on ourselves and preparing us for what is ahead. We have a good build-up and will spend a whole month in Asia to prepare.
"We need to have the chemistry and mindset amongst the group just right. I think over the years we have begun to master our trade and style of play. You can see it in the results we have been getting over the past 12 months, we just need to be consistent with it now."
The tournament will be staged 23-30 July in Bangalore, India.