27 Jan 2016

Tough Rio ask for NZ basketballers

12:20 pm on 27 January 2016

The New Zealand men's and women's basketball coaches say they're excited about their Olympic qualifying tournaments - but they both realise it's going to be tough to get to Rio.

The Tall Blacks have been drawn in a six-team tournament in Manila in July involving France, Turkey, the Philippines, Senegal and Canada.

Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare

Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare Photo: Photosport

The tournament is one of three with the winners of each qualifying for Rio.

New Zealand is in a group with world No.5 France and the hosts, the Philippines.

Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare said the competition will be fierce with the Olympics on the line, "but that's fuel for the fire for our guys... basketball truly is a global sport and to play against the likes of France will be an amazing challenge."

"The Tall Blacks are a special team and whenever a challenge is set, the boys come together under the powerful culture of the black singlet. I know every one of the guys who has worn the black will be eager to get to the Philippines," said Henare.

Meanwhile the New Zealand women's basketballers have been drawn with Cuba and France in their one-off qualifying tournament in France in June.

Five teams from the 12-team tournament qualify for Rio.

New Zealand is the ninth-ranked team at the women's tournament.

Tall Ferns coach Kennedy Kereama said he's happy with the draw and looking forward to the challenge.

"I believe we have a favourable pool with France and Cuba, and crossovers against either Argentina, Turkey or Cameroon," Kereama said.

"These will all be tough games and there isn't any easy way of qualifying, however I think having the host in our pool is a good thing. We will be taking it one game at a time and focussing on Cuba and France first."

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