Hunt named in young side to play Australia

Jordan Hunt
Jordan Hunt
Jordan Hunt has continued his rise after his impressive season with the Otago Nuggets.

The 2.05m forward has been named in the Tall Blacks for the first time.

He was one of 10 newcomers in the 12-man squad named to face Australia in Cairns on Saturday.

The game is an Asia Cup qualifier, and initially had been set to be played during a series in the Philippines before the Covid-19 pandemic.

The side has a youthful look, as the majority of New Zealand’s top players were unavailable.

Players had to be based in Australia, due to the difficulty of returning to New Zealand, while fully contracted ANBL players were not asked, as their season is ongoing.

Development players Hunt and Taine Murray, at the Cairns Taipans and New Zealand Breakers respectively, are the only NBL players on the roster.

It matches the similarly inexperienced Australian team, which does not include any ANBL players.

Hunt was drafted by the Nuggets in the third round of last year’s National Basketball League Showdown in his first year back from college in the United States.

He averaged 19.6 points per game and was named Finals Most Valuable Player as the side won the title.

He was then signed by the Taipans as a development player, where he has played one game, recording two points and a rebound.

Veteran Mika Vukona provides 151 tests of experience, having answered the call to suit up for the side.

Mitchell Dance is another notable name, the 2017 and 2018 national secondary schools championships MVP having signed to play in the NBL1 in Australia.

Joel Vaiangina gets a call-up after a solid NBL Showdown last year, while national league veteran Houston O’Reilly, who lives on the Gold Coast, is also included.

Tall Blacks coach Pero Cameron said while the side was missing players, it remained an honour to wear the jersey.

"It’s a proud moment and a great opportunity for all of us, but also a commitment to propel the Tall Blacks towards our bigger goals of the Asia Cup and the World Cup.

"That cycle stops if we don’t play the qualifiers and each of these players understand that.

"Every player named, whether in test number 152 or 1, has answered the call when their national team needed them.

"They want to bleed black and that’s the number one reason why they are in this team."

The match will tip-off at 9.30pm (NZ time).

Tall Blacks squad 

To play Australia
Zac Carter, Mitchell Dance, Ben Gold, 
Jordan Hunt, Jono Janssen, Tane 
Kirisome, Zane Meehl, Taine Murray, 
Houston O’Reilly, Jackson Smyth, Joel 
Vaiangina, Mika Vukona.

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