31 Aug 2009

Tall Ferns up against it

8:05 am on 31 August 2009

The New Zealand women's basketball coach Shawn Dennis calls this week's FIBA Oceania Championship series against Australia their "Everest" and he's not holding out much hope of repeating the men's recent triumph.

Ahead of game one of the two-game series tonight in Porirua, Dennis says the Tall Ferns are enormous underdogs and nobody expects them to get within 30 points of the defending world champion Australian Opals.

Only one team will qualify for the 2010 world championships from the series, and with six players from last year's Beijing Olympics team already out, the inexperienced New Zealanders' chances got even tougher when point guard Angela Marino and forward Jillian Harmon were forced to withdraw.

New Zealand, with an average age of 21.2 years, are up against a similarly inexperienced Australian side.

The Tall Ferns have only four players returning from 12 months ago while the Opals have just three returnees from the team that claimed silver medals in Beijing.

The series finishes in Canberra on Wednesday