Kiwi spirit to push Tall Blacks to glory
With a career spanning almost two decades, Mika Vukona is a New Zealand basketball legend.
He’s the only player from the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games silver medal Tall Blacks side set to compete at GC2018 and says the New Zealand spirit is what will motivate the side.
"We have a great culture and bond in the Tall Blacks, it is one that everyone feels every time we come into camp or for a game," he said.
"But playing in the Commonwealth Games is that little bit more special, with the atmosphere of a much larger team, all chasing their own dreams and goals."
Vukona is a valuable inclusion in the Tall Blacks side after missing New Zealand's February FIBA 2019 World Cup qualifier victories against China and Korea.
"It's not so much a relief (to be back in the side) as an honour, it is something I have never taken for granted," he said of his return.
"Any time I pull on the black singlet is special.”
"There is a great group of young players coming through, all who are pushing for their spots and minutes on this team, so to hear my name called out in any Tall Blacks roster is a huge honour.”
We showed in those two great wins in China and Korea that the team is in good hands and we have some great depth - to be a part of this generation of players is humbling and to lead them is a responsibility I take very seriously."
Vukona said CG2018 will be as important a tournament as any.
"We will bring what we are renowned for bringing to any game, a performance based on desire, to work hard for yourself, for your teammates and for your country," he said.
"We are not talking about winning gold. We are focused on performing to our highest standards and representing the silver fern with that pride and passion.
"The results will look after themselves."
New Zealand take on Nigeria in the Men’s Preliminary Round Pool A on Friday night, followed by Australia on Saturday night and Canada on Monday. All New Zealand’s matches are taking place at the Cairns Convention Centre, with the semi-finals and finals moving to the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre from April 13.
This article was produced by Games News Service.