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Wellington to open the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers

Basketball New Zealand has announced that Wellington will host the Tall Blacks verses Korea test at the TSB Arena. This will be the very first qualifying game in FIBAs new World Cup system, starting 23 November.

FIBAs President, Horacio Muratore, acknowledged New Zealand this week by saying the global basketball community will be watching closely as the Tall Blacks tip off this new era of international basketball.

New Zealand Tall Blacks. Inquirer photo
"Our new competition system will offer fans worldwide a unique experience - besides the opportunity to see their national team in their own country on a regular basis, they will also get the chance to follow 40 games played across the globe over the course of two days. The qualifiers, from start to finish, will see a total of 840 official national-team games take place in order to qualify 31 teams to our flagship competition.

"We cannot think of a better way for the Road to China 2019 to get underway than witnessing Korea taking on New Zealand, two powerhouse teams in the Asia region, who last squared off in the third place game at the first-ever FIBA Asia Cup this past summer," said Muratore.

Basketball New Zealands Chief Executive, Iain Potter, says this new FIBA competition format has been years in the making. And thanks to the new system, he says New Zealands basketball fans will finally get to see more of the Tall Blacks on home soil, something that has been a rarity in the past.

"This new competition system was first discussed back in 2015, when FIBA laid out plans to build the FIBA World Cup into one of the globes biggest sporting events. The genius of the build-up is how they have allocated home games for every team. New Zealand fans have been starved of seeing the Tall Blacks play at home. Now we are set to step up and take on some of the Worlds best, what better way to tip off than to do it in the Capital."

Mr Potter agrees that the new qualification system does make it more challenging for the Tall Blacks to qualify for the FIBA World Cup, but says its a challenge that should bring out the best in New Zealands basketball fans as well as the players.

"After New Zealand placed fourth in the 2002 World Cup, FIBA realised the Tall Blacks could hold their own internationally, so they gave Oceania an additional qualification spot. That meant, from 2006, we had to qualify for the World Cup by placing within the top two in Oceania - so that was always the Tall Blacks and Australia. Now, in the new system, we need a top seven finish in Asia - thats top seven out of the 44 countries in the FIBA Asia Zone. And because China automatically receives one of those spots as the 2019 World Cup host nation, we are actually fighting for one of six remaining spots. So its a big challenge, but the first step is to get through this first window by securing a top three finish in our pool."

The remaining home games in the first qualification window, against Hong Kong and China, will be in June and July next year. The venues of those games are yet to be announced.

The Tall Blacks verses Korea game will tip-off at 7pm on 23 November, at TSB Arena in Wellington. Tickets go on sale 9am Wednesday, 4 October via www.ticketmaster.co.nz

FIBA World Cup Qualifiers - Round 1 - Tall Blacks games

Date - Opponents - Home/Away

23 November 2017 - Korea - Home (TSB Bank Arena, Wellington)

26 November 2017 - Hong Kong - Away (Southourn Stadium, Hong Kong)

23 February 2018 - China - Away

26 February 2018 - Korea - Away

28 June 2018 - Hong Kong - Home

1 July 2018 - China - Home

Source: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/sport/news/article.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=11927425

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