The Tall Ferns Women’s Basketball squad has been trimmed to 12 ahead of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament and local Jessica Bygate just missed the cut.
Head Coach Kennedy Kereama had the difficult task of omitting two players ahead of the qualifying tournament in just seven days time.
The Olympic dream just got harder for Jessica, who is based in Melbourne and playing for Sunbury Jets.
“It was a tough decision,” says Kennedy. “Both players bring so much and the coaching staff spent a long time agonising over the decision.
“I am confident both will go home and work hard and be ready for a call up at any time. Injuries happen, sickness happens, we are hoping we don’t have to replace anyone under those circumstances but it is a reality.”
Alongside Jessica, Waikato teenager Krystal Leger-Walker also missed out but Kennedy says if the team qualify for Rio the pair will get a chance to re-trial.
The Tall Ferns will assemble alongside 12 other nations at the women’s qualifying tournament in France with only the top five earning a place in Rio.
New Zealand’s ranking of 22nd in the world has them clearly ranked as underdogs, but Kennedy is backing his team to mix it with the best in France.
The 12 selected players are:
Stella Beck, Hutt Valley
Micaela Cocks, North Harbour
Penina Davidson, Waitakere
Antonia Edmondson, Canterbury
Deena Franklin, North Harbour
Jillian Harmon, Le Murra Lucca
Jordan Hunter, Counties Manukau
Chevannah Paalvast, Waitakere
Kalani Purcell, Counties Manukau
Erin Rooney, Canterbury
Josephine Stockill, Hawkes Bay
Lisa Wallbutton, North Harbour