University of Nebraska sophomore point guard Tai Webster along with former Wisconsin Badger sharpshooter Kirk Penny will lead New Zealand into the 2014 World Cup.
Webster,19, has been shaking off the rust during the Tall Black’s World Cup preparations but he showed everyone why he is one of the biggest talents ever in New Zealand against Serbia on Aug. 25. New Zealand defeated Serbia 102-96.
Webster finished with 21 points against Serbia, on just4-of-10 shooting but was 11-of-13 from the charity stripe. He also grabbed four rebounds and dished out two assists.
Webster received high-praise from the Kiwis head coach Nenad Vucinic.
“He played on a high, high level tonight.” Vucinic said. “Of course he’s 19, he’s going to go up and down a little bit, but he’s a capable player, he’s got the mentality for the game, and has also got the ability.”
Webster started 30 games for the Huskers last season, helping Nebraska make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998. He averaged 3.9 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. The true freshman led the Huskers with 63 assists.
Penny, who currently plays for Trabzonspor, Turkey, continued his excellent play and tallied a game-high 29 points on 9-of-15 shooting, including 6-of-6 from beyond the arc, against Serbia.
While Penny and Webster are the most talented members, New Zealand also will also count on 6-foot-4 forward Mika Vokuna, who scored 22 points against Serbia, 6-foot-6 small forward Thomas Abercrombie. Abercrombie took part in mini-camp opportunities with NBA teams such as the San Antonio Spurs, Milwaukee Bucks, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks. He then joined the Phoenix Suns for the 2013 summer league.
New Zealand also has former University of Saint Louis 6-foot-11 center Rob Loe and University of Hawaii junior 6-foot-8 forward Isaac Fotu. Loe, who was a member of the 2014 Golden State Warriors summer league team, averaged 10.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game along with 41 blocks as a senior. Fotu, an All-Big West selection, averaged 14.9 points and 6.1 rebounds, blocked 24 shots and shot 58.4 percent from field for the Rainbow Warriors.
New Zealand is ranked No. 19 in the world according to FIBA World rankings.
New Zealand’s FIBA World Cup schedule:
Aug. 30: vs. Turkey
Aug. 31: vs. Dominican Republic
Sept. 2: vs. United States
Sept. 3: vs. Ukraine
Sept. 4: vs. Finland