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2017 Class of FIBA Hall of Fame: Pero Cameron

MIES (FIBA Hall of Fame) - New Zealand's Pero Cameron, a legend from Oceania who shone on basketball's greatest stages with the Tall Blacks, is being honored with induction to the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2017.

Cameron, who played with both grace and plenty of oomph had the build of a player that would not look out of place in a rugby scrum, is among six former players being enshrined into the Hall of Fame, alongside Shaquille O'Neal (United States), Toni Kukoc (Croatia), Mickey Berkowitz (Israel), Razija Mujanovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Valdis Valters (Latvia). Joining them is coaching great Dusan Ivkovic (Serbia) and the Dream Team, arguably the greatest international team of all time. They were selected from a list of more than 150 candidates.

The tournament that made him famous in all parts of the globe was the 2002 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Indianapolis. Cameron captained the Kiwis at the event and helped them go on an unexpected and marvelous run to the Semi-Finals that was capped off with him being named to the All-Star Five.

Two years earlier, Cameron had made his Olympic bow when the Tall Blacks played at the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney. He also featured for New Zealand at the Athens Olympics in 2004.

Big and burly but with the deftest of shooting touches, Cameron also passed the ball, a must in the Tall Blacks offense.

He set the tone for New Zealand's terrific 2002 World Cup campaign by drilling 4 of 7 attempts from the arc and scoring a game-high 22 points in a 90-81 triumph over Russia. In the 65-63 Quarter-Final triumph over Puerto Rico, he hit 4 of 9 shots from long range and scored 16 points. He scored the winning basket with 23 seconds remaining.

Cameron, who has Maori roots (the indigenous people of New Zealand) was named the 2002 Maori Sportsman of the Year.

"Physically he was unique in terms of the way he played," his Tall Blacks teammate and current New Zealand head coach Paul Henare said. "The skill set, the IQ, the steely nerves and the clutch plays he made is what made him so special."

Another former teammate and New Zealand coach, Nenad Vujinic, said of Cameron: "I will never forget the respect that top players in the world, especially the members of the All-Star Five from Indianapolis, had for him and how spoke about him. I am originally from Yugoslavia and if Pero Cameron walks down the street in Belgrade like he did three years ago, everyone knows him. He is famous in the world, much more than in New Zealand."

At the 2006 and 2010 FIBA Basketball World Cups, Cameron and New Zealand reached the Round of 16. Also in 2006, Cameron and New Zealand won silver at the Commonwealth Games.

After claiming Rookie of the Year honors with his first club, the Waikato Warriors, in 1992, Cameron went on to play for the Auckland Stars/Rebels (1994–2000), Ipoh Red Eagles (1995–1996), Chester Jets (Great Britain, 1999–2003), Waikato Titans/Pistons (2001–2009), New Zealand Breakers (2003–2005), Banvit (Turkey, 2005-2006), Mahram (Iran, 2007) and Gold Coast Blaze (Australia, 2007–2010).

Five times Cameron claimed the Kiwi MVP award (1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999) and seven times he earned a spot on the NBL All-Star Five (1994-1999, 2001). On nine occasions, he was a New Zealand National Basketball League champion (1995-1997, 1999-2002, 2008, 2009).

The Chester Jets team he played for in 2002 also won the league title.

Having coached in New Zealand and Australia, he also serves on the staff of the New Zealand Tall Blacks. He was on the bench when the team made its FIBA Asia Cup debut in Beirut in 2017.

A member of that New Zealand team, point guard Shea Ili, was voted to the All-Star Five and spoke of how watching Cameron and his team-mates 15 years ago was inspirational.

"They were our idols," Ili said.

Cameron's contributions on the court were recognized as he was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2011 and that same year was in Queen Elizabeth II's Birthday Honors list for services to basketball.

Name Pero Cameron
Category of Inductee Player
Date of birth June 5, 1974
Place of birth Tokoroa, New Zealand
Nationality New Zealand
Height 6ft 7in (2.00m)

As player:

  • Waikato Warriors (1992–1993)
  • Auckland Stars/Rebels (1994–2000)
  • Ipoh Red Eagles (1995–1996)
  • Chester Jets (1999–2003)
  • Waikato Titans/Pistons (2001–2009)
  • New Zealand Breakers (2003–2005)
  • Banvit (2005–2006)
  • Mahram (2007)
  • Gold Coast Blaze (2007–2010)

As coach:

  • Wellington Saints (2010–2013)
  • Gold Coast Blaze (asst.) (2011–2012)
  • Waikato Pistons (2014)
  • Wellington Saints (2015)
  • Gold Coast Rollers (2016–present)
Club highlights

As player

  • 9-time New Zealand National Basketball League champion (1995-1997, 1999-2002, 2008, 2009)
  • British Basketball League champion (2002)

As coach:

  • 2-time New Zealand National Basketball League champion (2010, 2011)
National team highlights
  • Participated in 3 FIBA Basketball World Cups (2002, 2006 and 2010)
  • Participated in 2 Olympic Games (2000 and 2004)
  • Captain of the New Zealand team that reached the Semi-Finals at the the FIBA Basketball World cup in 2002
  • Commonwealth Games Silver Medal (2006)
Individual highlights

As player

  • NBL Rookie of the Year (1992)
  • 5-time Kiwi MVP (1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999)
  • 7-time NBL All-Star Five (1994-1999, 2001)
  • Named to the All-Star Five at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2002
  • Maori Sportsman of the Year (2002)

As coach:

  • New Zealand National Basketball League Coach of the year (2010)
  • Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to basketball - 2011 Queen's Birthday Honours

The 2017 Class of the FIBA Hall of Fame will be inducted during a special ceremony at the House of Basketball - the headquarters of basketball's world governing body on the outskirts of Geneva, Switzerland - on Saturday September 30.