25 August, 2023
10 September
Flynn Cameron _ NZL
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The Camerons: Don't get pushed around if you're Pero's son

MANILA (Philippines) - Pero Cameron was the face of New Zealand's historic run in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2002. He is now the head coach of the national team, but the Cameron legacy in that iconic Tall Blacks jersey lives on through his son, Flynn.

They are completely different players: the 23-year-old Flynn Cameron is an athletic guard dictating proceedings in the backcourt for both New Zealand and UC Riverside in the NCAA; Pero was the big body under the rim who did a bit of everything. 


While it's not their first ride together as a player-coach combo, but it's their first FIBA Basketball World Cup together.

"It's definitely a special one with my dad as the coach. We already had a FIBA Asia Cup run, and he was a coach there, I'm just looking forward to it even more at this World Cup," Flynn said.

However, that term "dad" needs to be out of his vocabulary for the summer. Just doesn't sound right when they are on a national team, does it?

"I can't be calling him 'dad' around here. I have to call him 'coach' or 'PC' because of his initials and how we call him on our team. There's a lot of stuff to be careful about, and even though our team is like a family, we still got to keep it professional," the son explained.

"If it's just him and I, I can just say anything, really. I just look at him as one of the athletes on the team, I try to give him the same as everybody else, a little bit of direction and confidence," Pero offered his perspective on communication with Flynn and the rest of the squad.



Flynn Cameron is just starting his professional career. Coach Pero will throw a casual "he's not bad" comment with a grin that all fathers think they hide well when trying not to be too obvious about how proud they are of their sons.

It fits perfectly with Pero's kind of low profile demeanor.

In fact, the profile is so low, not even his own sons knew that Pero was selected to the All-Star Five back in 2002, when he put up 15 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists per game, taking New Zealand to a historic Semi-Finals appearance at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Indianapolis, USA.

Imagine one day sitting at home, doing whatever 8-year-old boys do, and then finding out your dad was standing next to Predrag Stojakovic, Manu Ginobili, Dirk Nowitzki and Yao Ming as one of the top five players in 2002.

"That's the thing, dad is super humble about everything, I had to find out through my mom his accomplishments from 2002. He never brought it up," Flynn recounts.

"I think it was like 2008 when mom brought it up, saying 'your dad was nice.' Me any brother were like, 'what do you mean!?''He didn't talk about it. Then we find out he was on the All-Star Five in 2002!" 


"He talks about the off-court experiences mainly, like teaching Dirk Nowitzki the Haka, meeting Yao Ming... On the down low, he could hold his own against all these players. I find that pretty awesome," Flynn said with a smile that was way more obvious than Pero's grin three paragraphs ago.

"Nah, that was a different era," the coach answered a question about playing his highlight clips to his sons.

Even though he was just 10 years old when his dad retired from professional basketball, Flynn still learned a thing or two from the FIBA Hall of Famer in preparation for the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2010. Pero was 36 at the time.

"I remember watching him at the World Cup in 2010. But what I remember the most is all the work he put in ahead of it, all the hill sprints, all of that, it kind of inspired me, especially at that age to be doing all that."


New Zealand have always had that familiar feeling around their basketball team. Think about the Fotu brothers, the Webster brothers, all the other connections throughout the years.

"I think we're all one big family. The players are like family to each other, and our staff as well, we understand that we need to be together more and have a connection to help compete and perform on this sort of level, this stage. We look forward to these challenges," the older Cameron said.

They will take on these challenges the same way they took on the United States in the Mall of Asia Arena in their first game. No fear, no doubts, throw a punch, take a punch, bounce back up and carry on.

Or, as Flynn summarized Pero's coaching philosophy: "Play smart. Play the game the right way. Be strong with everything, don't do it halfhearted. Don't get pushed around. Especially don't get pushed around. It's not good for his image."