Tall Blacks' Olympic hopes over after team pulled from qualifiers due to finances

Source: 1News

The Tall Blacks’ Olympic dreams in Tokyo are over after Basketball New Zealand confirmed they had withdrawn them as well as the men's 3X3 team from qualifying tournaments.

NANJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 01: Yago Mateus #2 of Brazil goes to the basket during FIBA World Cup 2019 group match between New Zealand and Brazil at Nanjing Youth Olympic Sports Park Gymnasium on September 1, 2019 in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province of China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Basketball NZ announced today the withdrawals were made due to a packed schedule - which includes qualifiers for World Cups, Olympic Games and Asia Cups - being too much for the national body to undertake in one financial year.

On top of the busy schedule, added tournament costs caused by quarantine protocols had to also be factored in.

The decision was locked in after FIBA requested Basketball NZ's confirmation of entries for the events in Serbia and Austria.

Basketball NZ said after consultation with senior players and the Players Association in recent weeks, everyone agreed to prioritise "events that qualify into long-term cycles".

The decision means Basketball NZ will instead invest in “must-play” competitions, including the Tall Ferns and Tall Blacks’ FIBA Asia Cup cycles. Those qualify for the FIBA World Cup cycles, which is a qualification route to the 2024 Olympics.

Basketball NZ also added the FIBA 3X3 Asia Cups (men and women) to the investment list as they lead to the 2022 FIBA 3X3 World Cups.

Basketball NZ chief executive Iain Potter said ultimately they made strategic decisions that are balanced with financial acumen.

“The board spent considerable time weighing up the future of our international teams,” Potter said.

“They have accepted a level of measured risk, with a deficit forecast for this year that we are backing ourselves to cover through sponsorship and additional funding. But even with the additional commitment, the programme would require another three-quarters of a million dollars to ensure we could participate in all scheduled 2021 events.

“Ultimately the board agreed to focus on how we will maintain our responsibility to play in international competitions and ensure we can still compete in the future, and to make sure our men’s and women’s programmes are given equal opportunity.

“The players, staff and the board realise we are not operating like we did pre-Covid-19. For an international team, everything is more expensive.

“In these unprecedented times we must consolidate, or we risk something far greater and that’s not seeing any international basketball for the Tall Ferns or Tall Blacks over the next four-year cycle.”