Tall Blacks vs Venezuela Test Series
New Zealand's Olympic campaign beings in July with a three-game home series against Venezuela, beginning in Napier (July 20), then moving to Wellington (July 22 & 24). The South Americans are well established on the international scene and will feature Euroleague star Oscar Torres.
The Tall Blacks will then contest the Boris Stankovic Cup in China, before visiting Croatia and Latvia in the final leg of their preparations for the three-game Oceania series in Australia.
The 2007 Oceania Championships loom as possibly the most keenly anticipated contest in the history of New Zealand v Australia basketball.
No one ever expected the Tall Blacks to beat their neighbours in the historic 2001 series win that catapulted the Kiwi men to the FIBA World Championships in Indianapolis. Their semifinal finish there really paved the way for the trans Tasman rivals to both contest the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2006 world championships.
But with the Beijing Olympics looming next year, there is only room for one team to progress direct out of Oceania. The losers of the qualifying series in August will get another chance, but will have to take on several of the world’s best teams in a repechage tournament in Europe... possibly a tougher assignment than the Olympics themselves.