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Tall Blacks learn path to World Cup

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 7/05/2017

New Zealand have drawn China, Korea and Hong Kong in their pool for the first stage of qualifying for the 2019 Basketball World Cup.

With Oceania giants Australia and New Zealand now under the Asian umbrella, the Tall Blacks face a longer pathway to the sport's showpiece.

They will play home and away matches against each of their pool opponents in specific FIBA windows.

The top three teams will advance to a second stage of qualifying, where 12 nations will battle for seven spots available at the World Cup in China.

The Tall Blacks will fancy their chances of advancing through the first phase, with Hong Kong ranked a lowly 65th in the world.

World No.20 New Zealand's first qualifying game is scheduled for November at home to 30th-ranked Korea with their last at home to 14th-ranked China in July next year.

Complicating the planning process for Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare is the fact Korea and Hong Kong are among five teams still to confirm their places in World Cup qualifying.

While they were included in the draw in Guangzhou on Sunday, their spots could be taken by other nations involved in the Southeast Asia championship later in May or the East Asia championship in June.

New Zealand will also contest the 16-nation FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon from August 10-20.

NZ World Cup qualifying schedule, first stage:

Nov 23, v Korea (home)

Nov 26, v Hong Kong (away)

Feb 23, v China (away)

Feb 26, v Korea (away)

June 28, v Hong Kong (home)

July 1, v China (home)

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