Fotu giving Tall Blacks a lot of opportunities
BARCELONA (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - Isaac Fotu is one of the primary reasons New Zealand advanced to the Round of 16 coming through the treacherous Group C in Bilbao.
The Tall Blacks won only two of their five games in the Group Phase in the Basque capital and the University of Hawaii forward was at the vanguard of both those wins.
Fotu had 10 points and 10 rebounds in leading New Zealand to a 73-61 defeat of Ukraine on Wednesday, for their first win after three successive defeats. He followed that up with a personal tournament-high of 18 points as the Tall Blacks edged out Finland 67-65 on the final day of the Group Phase to advance from Group C.
FIBA.com spoke to Fotu as the Tall Blacks prepared for their Round of 16 game against Lithuania on Sunday.
FIBA.com: Talk about your experience at the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Fotu: It's been great for my game and I've learnt a lot just playing against older, more experienced guys. It was a great experience to play against the United States.
FIBA.com: How has it been playing with some of the veterans?
Fotu: Some of the players I'm playing with are legends in New Zealand basketball. It's a great opportunity to be playing alongside them. These are players I've grown up watching. They all teach me a lot. Nobody has any bad attitude and they all have taken me in. I'm learning a lot.
FIBA.com: What were your expectations when you were picked?
Fotu: I wanted to be the energy guy. Whenever my name is called I just wanted to play hard and be counted in. That’s what I have been doing.
FIBA.com: A quick comment on the team’s performance so far.
Fotu: We were very disappointed after the defeat to the Dominican Republic, and we're going to do what we always do, and that's play to win every game we play, because every time we put on that black jersey we all know the importance of it.