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Basketball - 18. February 2008.

NZL - Anzac spirit

Their first gathering of the year will see the Kiwi women accepting an invitation to practice alongside the FIBA World Champion Australian Opals and facing them in two practice games on the final two days.

“Any opportunity we get to play opponents of this quality has to be good for our development,” says Tall Fern coach Mike McHugh.

Last time the trans Tasman rivals met, the Opals ran out convincing winners at the FIBA Oceania Championships in Dunedin last September. But the Ferns came very close to knocking off their highly rated opponents when they camped together at the AIS in the build-up to the 2004 Athens Olympics.

The squad attending this year’s camp is ...

Suzie Bates, Jody Cameron, Micaela Cocks, Toni Edmondson, Aneka Kerr, Karlene Kingi, Angela Marino, Jess McCormack, Kate McMeeken-Ruscoe, Lisa Pardon, Charmian Purcell, Natalie Purcell, Jess Spinner, Lisa Wallbutton, Noni Wharemate

From this group, 12 players will be chosen to contest the “Good Luck” Olympic test event in Beijing, April 19-26.

Meanwhile, Basketball New Zealand has confirmed plans to keep the core of the Tall Fern squad based in Christchurch after the Australian WNBL season finishes.

Nine players have gained valuable experience in the league with the Christchurch Sirens this summer and McHugh hopes to bring other squad members in where possible to create a fulltime training environment leading up to Beijing.

“The programme is an holistic one, and this will enable us to manage the players’ day-to-day development in the areas of basketball skills, conditioning and medical treatment.”

Grant Chapman

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