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Fotu replaces injured Harris in Tall Blacks

Updated: Jun 18

Injured Hyrum Harris has been replaced by Dan Fotu in the Tall Blacks
Hard-working Hyrum Harris (pictured) is out of the Tall Blacks with a knee injury and is replaced by Dan Fotu. PHOTO: DAVE LINTOTT PHOTOGRAPHY

The Tall Blacks have confirmed a change to their FIBA Olympic Qualifiers squad of 14, with Dan Fotu stepping in for the injury Hyrum Harris.


Harris has been battling a knee injury over the past three months while Fotu is no stranger to the black singlet, having earned eight caps for New Zealand since 2018.


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Tall Blacks head coach Pero Cameron said that while Harris’ injury is lamentable, the squad would welcome Fotu on board.


“Really unfortunate with Hyrum and his injury, it’s tough luck for him and also for us. I know what he can do and what he brings to our team," said Cameron.


"But I’m looking forward to having Dan Fotu step in and having an impact, I’m happy to see him get this opportunity as he’s always growing and has done well for us in the past,” said Cameron.

 

Cameron saw the two friendly games against Finland and Poland as a key part of the Tall Black’s preparation, heading into the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Greece from July 3-7.


“Last time we played Finland was some time ago [2014 FIBA World Cup] and they were tough, they had a great crowd; we managed to come out on top and I remember it was a great game for both sides. And then Poland is not a team I’ve faced before, but some of our players have played in their domestic leagues and say the competition is tough.


“So these games aren’t going to be easy but it’s just what we need for our prep - the quality and the toughness of these games will help to get us battle-ready for the Olympic Qualifying tournament.”



Cameron said the players and staff all share the belief that this Tall Blacks squad "has what it takes" to earn a ticket to Paris.


“We’ve been looking forward to this, it’s right near the back-end of the (NBL) season so everyone’s got something going on, we’ve got a few guys like Yanni [Wetzell] playing overseas and I know a lot of our guys have been having these back-to-back seasons - but this is a great opportunity for our guys. We’re really looking to the challenge of these Olympic Qualifiers and playing some tough opponents.


“We’ll get together and plan out our preparations, knowing we have to move through it all pretty quickly as we’ve got less than two weeks until the Qualifiers start - and knowing that there’s just four spots for the 16 teams [across all four Olympic Qualifier tournaments]. So every game is tough for us – and we love it, we welcome it.


“The boys have accepted the challenge and we all want to get to the Olympics, as obviously we haven’t been there for a while. Our guys are more than capable of earning this spot.”



In addition to the roster change, Cameron has named his assistants for this tour, with Ross McMains, Trent Adam and Jovan Gorec joining him.


United States-based McMains has been a Tall Blacks assistant since 2016. He will join the Tall Blacks in Europe following the end of the NBA Finals, where he is embedded with the Boston Celtics as their player development coach.


Adam has been a Tall Black assistant coach since 2022, and most recently has been coaching in the Japan B-League.


Serbia-based Gorec is a newcomer to the Tall Blacks coaching sidelines but is familiar to the coaching staff – having worked with the team in the past in a video analysis and scouting role.


Currently the head coach for PEAC-Pecs in Hungary, Gorec has an extensive coaching resume in Serbia, Lebanon, Hungary and China and will provide valuable insight to the New Zealand team.


TALL BLACKS SQUAD

 

Flynn Cameron, Taranaki Airs/Melbourne United

Finn Delany, Casademont Zaragoza

Dan Fotu, Nelson Giants/NZ Breakers

Ben Gold, Marquette University

Tyrell Harrison, Southern Districts Spartans/Brisbane Bullets

Shea Ili, Geelong United/Melbourne United

Izayah Le’Afa, Wellington Saints/Sydney Kings

Jordan Ngatai, Bay Hawks

Ethan Rusbatch, Franklin Bulls

Reuben Te Rangi, Auckland Tuatara

Tom Vodanovich, Auckland Tuatara

Sam Waardenburg, Cairns Taipans

Corey Webster, Auckland Tuatara

Yanni Wetzell, Alba Berlin


TALL BLACKS SCHEDULE


Friendlies

June 26: vs Finland

June 29: vs Poland


FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament

July 4: vs Croatia

July 5: vs Slovenia 

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