The SKYCITY Breakers influence on the recently named New Zealand Select team is clear, with half the team having come through the Breakers player pathway at some point in their careers. But the imprint extends beyond the players, with Breakers Assistant Coach Mike Fitchett joining Lindsay Tait (a former Breakers player) and Head Coach Paul Henare on the coaching staff.
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Henare is planning on taking a watching brief to allow Fitchett to run the team on tour, with Tait assisting, giving both young coaches the chance to fully immerse themselves in the international environment and learn as much as they can during the tour to China.
Fitchett is a former Tall Black and has coached in the New Zealand age group system for three years, taking the U16’s in 2013/14 and the U17’s in 2015, when they narrowly lost the Oceania final to Australia.
“This is a great opportunity for me to learn and further develop my coaching career, one I am grateful to Basketball New Zealand for offering me. The New Zealand Select concept is about developing players and identifying future Tall Blacks, but it is also a chance for the coaches and support staff to gain that vital international experience – and even better for Lindsay and I to do this on tour with Paul close at hand for any advice and guidance.”
The partnership with Tait is not a new one either, with both coming through their playing careers at the same time.
“Lindsay and I know each other well, for the five years I was in Tall Blacks I was pretty much in the back up rotation to Lindsay at point guard. Plus we are the same age so came through the age group teams together. We are different in our approach and will complement each other nicely I think, albeit this will be new for both of us at this level of the game.”
Fitchett says there is a genuine edge to the tour, for a variety of reasons.
“Having Pauli there is great, he will be there to step in if needed and keep us on the right track but he is also looking to see how we go in our roles. My goal is to be part of the Tall Blacks coaching team one day, so to be learning from the current boss is fantastic.
“While we will be under the spotlight, it is also a chance to keep a close eye on the players, many of whom are in contention for roster spots at the Breakers. This is a great chance to see them operate on tour and in camp, often that brings out the best and worst in players so we will get a good gauge for how each of them reacts in those pressure situations, and how they work in with the team.”
Fitchett also appreciates that this experience will add value to the Breakers environment when he returns for pre-season training and the upcoming ANBL campaign.
“This is another development opportunity for me personally, one that will help us in the season with me having a more confident and experienced coaching voice on the floor. Any time I spend with Pauli in a coaching environment is a good thing to as we further understand each other and what he wants.
There is also a player assessment side of things, a bunch of these guys are in contention for contracts and I will be able to assess them first hand on and off court which is very valuable for the club during the off season.
New Zealand Select Team to tour China, June 2017 – * notes player having been a part of the SKYCITY Breakers at some stage in their development
- Luke Aston, Southland Sharks (NBL), Guard, 201cm, 28/06/1990;
- Alonzo Burton*, Taranaki MountainAirs (NBL), Guard, 193cm, 4/10/1993, NZU16, U17;
- Joe Cook-Green, Northwest Florida State College (NJCAA), Guard, 185cm, 24/07/1997, NZU17, U18, Junior Tall Blacks;
- Finn Delany*, Nelson Giants (NBL) / NZ Breakers (ANBL), Forward, 200cm, 12/08/1995, NZ Select, Tall Blacks;
- James Hunter, Southland Sharks (NBL), Forward, 208cm, 19/06/1991;
- Dyson King-Hawea, Nunawading Spectres (MEBA, AUS), Forward, 198cm, 15/10/1992;
- Jordan Ngatai*, Wellington Saints (NBL), Forward, 195cm, 7/03/1993, NZ Select, Tall Blacks;
- Derone Raukawa*, Southland Sharks (NBL), Guard, 181cm, 24/07/1994, NZ Select, Tall Blacks;
- Ethan Rusbatch*, Canterbury Rams (NBL), Guard, 196cm, 4/05/1992, NZ Select, Tall Blacks;
- Sam Timmins, University of Washington (NCAA D1), Forward, 210cm, 23/05/1997, NZU17, Junior Tall Blacks, 3X3 U18 World Champion;
- Tony Tolovae, Hawks Bay Hawks (NBL), Guard, 192cm, 25/10/1992, NZ Select;
- Yanni Wetzell*, Vanderbilt University (NCAA D1), Forward, 205cm, 8/07/1996, NZ Select;
Paul Henare, Head Coach
Michael Fitchett, Assistant Coach
Lindsay Tait, Assistant Coach
Anousith Bouaphone, Physiotherapist
Paora Winitana, Cultural Ambassador
Peter Kadar, Team Manager