Richards delighted to get back on court to compete

Otago’s Zoe Richards in action for the Tall Ferns on her debut tour in Taiwan last year. PHOTO:...
Otago’s Zoe Richards in action for the Tall Ferns on her debut tour in Taiwan last year. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Zoe Richards has been craving today for a while now.

The Otago forward admits she has been a little jealous at watching the men take the court over the past six weeks.

Now she finally gets her opportunity.

Richards is one of 24 players to play in the Tall Ferns Showcase game, the curtain-raiser to the NBL final in Auckland today.

The 22-year-old, who debuted for the team last year, has been in Auckland for a week-long camp.

It was part of the long-term preparations for the 2022 World Cup.

That will culminate with a televised intra-squad game tonight.

She will play for Team Davidson — led by Penina Davidson — and was excited to take the court.

"I’ve been kind of jealous," she said.

"It’s good for the boys that they’ve got something up and running.

"But I’m looking forward to getting out there on the court and having an opportunity.

"It’s a great way to showcase the high calibre of players here in New Zealand.

"We are missing quite a few of the veteran players, so it’s an opportunity for us younger ones to have an opportunity in New Zealand to be able to play."

Richards completed her United States college career earlier this year, leading her Eckerd College team to a conference championship.

Alongside that she graduated — online in Dunedin due to Covid-19 — with a bachelor of arts degree, majoring in communications and minoring in psychology and theatre.

She has also been a regular for the Otago Gold Rush and her performances last year earned her a Tall Ferns call-up.

Coming back into the squad this time was much easier, knowing some of the players and what was expected from the coaches.

Richards has been among the increasing wave of New Zealanders heading to the US for college.

Many of those at the beginning of that wave had now finished college.

The style of play in New Zealand was a little different, but she said that returning experience was boosting the quality of women’s basketball in the country.

Now players would have the chance to display that to a wider audience to continue the game’s growth.

"It’s a huge opportunity to get the rest of New Zealand out there watching female basketball players and watching a high calibre of players," she said.

While the game was a showcase, she still wanted to play well and use the skills the side had been working on.

From there her plans depend on where Covid-19 leaves the world.

She had been set to play in the WNBL 1, Australia’s second-tier league. Playing professionally overseas remains her goal.

The game tips off at 5pm tonight.

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