The Qld Tall Blacks aiming to take down the Boomers

 

For four Queenslanders, a dream will come true tonight as they step onto the court for a moment they will never forget.

Some are following in the footsteps of family members, one is breaking through for his first senior international appearance as a teenager and the other is another star on the rise.

Queensland basketball talents Zane Meehl, Zac Carter, Jonathan Janssen and Tane Kirisome will all represent the New Zealand Tall Blacks tonight as they face the Australian Boomers in a FIBA Asia Cup qualifier in Cairns.

The group have grabbed their opportunity with both hands after both New Zealand and the Boomers were forced to explore other avenues to fill teams due to the usual suspects being unable to play because of NBL commitments.

 

Zane Meehl playing for the Sunshine Coast Phoenix.
Zane Meehl playing for the Sunshine Coast Phoenix.

However, that doesn't make their achievement any less special as they represent not only their country but their family and culture.

For Meehl and Carter, both who have been stars in the Queensland Basketball League for years, it is a chance for them to become the second members of their family to play for the Tall Blacks at the senior level.

"It is a huge privilege to be able to represent the Tall Blacks. Dad (Warwick Meehl) obviously played for NZ and to be able to continue that legacy, especially this late in my career," Meehl, a former QBL MVP and current Sunshine Coast Phoenix guard, said.

"The amount of messages of support I have received from friends and family since the team lists were published has been amazing. This has been an unforgettable journey.

"I played for New Zealand for all the age groups growing up, from under-16s to under-23s and Junior Tall Blacks.

"This feels like the one of the final steps in my journey as a player."

 

New Zealand Tall Black Zac Carter.
New Zealand Tall Black Zac Carter.

Carter, a former NBL player who most recently helped lead the Brisbane Capitals to the 2019 QBL championship, said it was an honour to earn the opportunity to represent New Zealand.

"New Zealand has such rich culture and tradition and I'm grateful that I can be a part of it.

"My grandfather played for the Tall Blacks so I'm stoked that the family tradition can live on and I can follow in his footsteps."

While Meehl and Carter are at the tail end of their careers, former Cleveland State University and Hawaii Pacific University forward Janssen will use the game not just to represent his country but as a platform to help springboard his career.

 

Sunshine Coast Phoenix big man Jonathan Janssen.
Sunshine Coast Phoenix big man Jonathan Janssen.

The talented and versatile Sunshine Coast Phoenix big man, who also played NZNBL for the Canterbury Rams, showed what he could do in the Queensland State League last year, averaging more than 16 points and 10 rebounds per game

"Representing your country is something a lot of guys dream of their whole lives," Janssen said.

"It's a really big honour and I'm thankful for the opportunity to represent New Zealand and put on the black and white in what will be a very important game."

 

New Zealand Tall Black Tane Kirisome.
New Zealand Tall Black Tane Kirisome.

However, the youngest player on the court will be Logan Thunder junior Tane Kirisome, who will get the chance to suit up alongside an idol of his in Mika Vukona.

Kirisome has been a star at the junior level, representing Queensland and helping Brisbane State High School to last year's CBSQ grand final.

And at just 17-years-old, he will make his debut being coached by another one of his idols in Tall Blacks coach Pero Cameron.

"Making this teams been an honour to me - growing up and watching the Tall Blacks I've always looked up to the boys in black but now playing alongside those people and wearing the uniform feels surreal," he said.

"Just being here for a week or so I've learnt so much and all the boys here are really helping out and giving me heaps of tips. Can't wait for the game."

The game tips-off at 5.30pm AEST.


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