The New Zealand national men’s basketball team — the Tall Backs — picked up an important win in one of the qualifying matches for next summer’s FIBA World Cup. The Tall Blacks cruised to a 124-65 win over Hong Kong in the first of two qualifying matches this summer.
Salt started the game for the Tall Blacks and played solidly with nine points and seven rebounds in the decisive victory. One of his buckets was emphatic as his teammate Reuben Te Rangi found a trailing Salt for an easy dunk in transition.
#FIBAWC Asian Qualifiers play of the day?— Basketball World Cup (@FIBAWC) June 28, 2018
What a play by @TallBlacks #ThisIsMyHouse
https://t.co/xhmz5KKc1t https://t.co/eod3IQWyfT https://t.co/PRvabOEApD https://t.co/6BBBf6oObD pic.twitter.com/QAzEMsi2lq
Salt shot 3-for-5 (60%) from the field and 3-for-5 from the free throw line in just under 17 minutes of action to go with two steals and two blocks with no turnovers and no fouls (!!). As a team, New Zealand held Hong Kong to 41% shooting and forced 15 turnovers.
Our boy Jack is truly a Tony Bennett man through-and-through as illustrated with his post game quote on the Tall Blacks’ performance. From the NZ Herald stated:
He was pleased with the team’s performance but noted that there’s improvements to be made before they take on China.
”There’s definitely stuff we can work on, on the defensive end. A few slips, but we did pick it up a little bit in the second half.”
Next up, the Tall Blacks will face off against China on Sunday.
Before the game, the New Zealand squad took the court to perform the haka, a traditional Maori war chant. The haka is “fierce display of a tribe’s pride, strength and unity,” according to New Zealand’s official website. The performance is done at “...ceremonies and celebrations to honor guests and show the importance of the occasion.”
You can see Jack in the back and middle of the formation.
Here’s another angle:
Salt has already experienced the haka once during his time with the Cavaliers. When Virginia traveled to VCU in Salt’s redshirt season (2014) the Peppas (VCU’s pep band) performed a haka pre-game.
This was something they did off and on and wasn’t specific to Jack Salt’s arrival at the Siegel Center, but it was something he appreciated as Salt made a point to stop several band members post game to compliment their performance.
Salt is happy to be playing for his home country, saying:
“It was awesome, just singing the national anthem, I haven’t done that in a long time, to see the New Zealand flag and actually be singing and not be standing looking at the American flag, it was pretty good just to be representing my home country and it was good to get the lungs going a bit, I haven’t played since March, I am now looking forward to the game on Sunday.”
Sunday’s matchup is a big one for the Tall Blacks as they face a formidable Chinese team that will be pivotal in their quest to qualify for the World Cup. The game will take place at 3:10pm New Zealand time (11:10pm EST) and will be streamed on LiveBasketball.TV.