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Henare looks long-term for Tall Blacks

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 28/06/2017

Head Coach Paul Henare of New Zealand reacts at a timeout during the round three NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at the North Shore Events Centre on October 20, 2016. © Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images Head Coach Paul Henare of New Zealand reacts at a timeout during the round three NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at the North Shore Events Centre on October 20, 2016. Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare will be running a young and inexperienced roster at the Asia Cup in August in Beirut, keeping long-term goals firmly in mind.

New Zealand's recent inclusion in FIBA's Asian confederation has meant increased demands on players, coaches and support staff, he said.

With that in mind, Henare is looking to keeping his players fresh going into November's World Cup qualifiers at home against South Korea and away to Hong Kong.

While the Asia Cup is a prestigious tournament, this year's edition has no influence on the pathway to the 2019 World Cup and 2020 Olympics.

Henare has therefore made the call to rest his best players to ensure they are fit and fresh.

He said the Kiwis were already facing the prospect of playing the Asia Cup without a number of key players.

Among those unavailable are Mika Vukona, rehabbing ahead of the NBL season, Rob Loe (getting married), and Corey and Tai Webster, who are chasing possible NBA contracts.

"Given there are upcoming windows that carry much more significance for our programme, I have had to prioritise those opportunities in planning the next three years.

"It would be unfair and unrealistic on the playing group to expect everyone to be available at every opportunity - it's simply not possible from a player welfare point of view."

Henare says the Tall Blacks have the depth to be competitive, and want to finish as high as possible in New Zealand's first ever Asia Cup.

"This will be a test of a younger group of players to see just how capable they are of going to the next level."

Henare is currently on tour with the New Zealand Select team in China, keeping a close eye on players in contention for the Asia Cup team, which will be named in early July.

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