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NZL - JTBs announced for FIBA U19s

AUCKLAND (FIBA U19 World Championship) - Junior Tall Blacks head coach Kenny McFadden likes what he has but knows the real work for his team is only just about to begin.

The 12 athletes to represent the New Zealand Junior Tall Blacks at the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship in Auckland from July 2-12 have been confirmed by Basketball New Zealand.

USA-based Dion Prewster will captain a team that includes fellow USA-based forward Richie Edwards, back-to-back AA secondary schools most valuable player Brook Ruscoe and Tall Blacks triallist Rob Loe, the tallest player at 2.11m (6ft 11in).

Four 2009 debutantes – Nelson’s Josh Bloxham, Hutt Valley’s Riki Buckrell, Porirua’s Tipene Friday and Otago’s Tom Rowe – survived the final cut after a three-day camp at Porirua’s Te Rauparaha Arena earlier this week.

“I feel pretty comfortable, I feel that we’ve got the best players,” McFadden said. “It has been an 18-month build-up for some of these guys and there has been a lot of progress from a lot of players. It’s not one or two, it’s everyone, especially in the last four months.

“I’m very excited about what we’re going to produce on court.”

The Junior Tall Blacks will re-gather next Wednesday in Wellington for an intensive four-week residential programme, leading up to their departure for Auckland and their opening game of the tournament on Thursday, July 2.

Prewster, a Junior Tall Black since 2005 and captain the last two years, returned from his freshman season at San Jacinto (Junior) College in Texas earlier this week, while Edwards, after a successful senior season at Lakeland High School in Florida, will join the group in two weeks.

Otago has the highest representation in the squad through Rowe and big men Sam King and Morgan Nathan, while Canterbury’s Logan van Beek and Wellington’s David Beck complete the dozen.

“We’ve got a lot of speed, a lot of aggressive defence. We’re not a tall team, especially compared to other teams around the world,” McFadden said.

“We’re getting comfortable with the transition game and having more than one ball handler, being able to push the fast-break and make good decisions because in the past we have been guilty of too many turnovers.”

McFadden rated Friday, Buckrell and Rowe as the big improvers since the world championship campaign began last December.

The Junior Tall Blacks play their opening game at the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship against Americas champion Argentina at 8.30pm on July 2 at the North Shore Events Centre.

New Zealand Junior Tall Blacks

Name l DOB l Position Association/School Height

David Beck l 17/04/90 l PF l Wellington l 1.98m
Josh Bloxham l 13/03/90 l PG l Nelson l  1.83m
Riki Buckrell l 08/04/90 l SF l Hutt Valley l 1.92m
Richie Edwards l 30/06/90 l SF lakeland HS, F l 2.00m
Tipene Friday l 24/10/90 l PF l Porirua l 1.96m
Sam King l 08/04/91 l PF l Otago l 1.99m
Rob Loe l 05/08/91 l C l Harbour  l 2.11m
Morgan Nathan l 06/01/91 l SF/PF Otago l 1.97m
Dion Prewster l 10/01/90 l SG l San Jacinto College, TX 1.95m
Tom Rowe l 21/02/91 l SF l Otago l 2.00m
Brook Ruscoe l 02/09/90 l PG/SG Porirua l 1.86m
Logan van Beek l 07/09/90 l PG l Canterbury l 1.83m

Head coach: Kenny McFadden
Assistant coach: Judd Flavell
Video technician: Jozsef Molnar
Technical advisor: Mike McHugh
Manager: Debbie Webb
Programme director: Deslea Wrathall

Basketball New Zealand