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Penney calls time on Tall Blacks career

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 13/05/2016

New Zealand basketball great Kirk Penney has called time on his international career, ending speculation about his chances of a return to the Tall Blacks for their Olympic qualification bid.

Penney said it was time to allow the next generation to take centre stage as the Tall Blacks attempt a last-ditch effort to qualify for Rio.

New Zealand coach Paul Henare will next week announce his squad for the qualifying tournament in Manila in early July where the 21st-ranked Tall Blacks will face world No.5 France and 28th-ranked Philippines in pool play.

"I believe the talented generation coming though can take the Tall Blacks to greater heights in the years ahead," Penney said on Saturday.

"It's been difficult to make the call to retire from the Tall Blacks - I wanted to keep the option alive as it has meant so much to me and been a big part of my life for so long."

Penney's international career has spanned 15 years and included two Olympic Games and four world championship campaigns.

One of only three New Zealanders to feature in the NBA, shooting guard Penney played for the Los Angeles Clippers in 2004-5 after making his New Zealand debut in 1999 aged 18.

He was an integral part of the team which contested the 2000 Sydney Olympics, finished fourth at the 2002 world championships and played at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

"I am so grateful to have been able to play at this level, and I am so thankful to all my Tall Black coaches for the opportunity and the gift of knowledge," he said.

"The Tall Blacks are more than a team, they are a family of great people who will always share this incredible bond."

Henare said Penney's talents would be sorely missed.

"He was a world class shooter at the highest level, and is still one of the best today," Henare said.

"I have never met a more meticulous athlete in terms of always doing what is right for his body and performance.

"The Tall Blacks will miss him but his legacy will live on forever."

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