Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams will be unavailable for New Zealand at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, a statement has said.
Adams has reluctantly made the hard decision due to the possible NBA post-season schedule coming up, but has indicated this as early as he can to best allow Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare to select and prepare the team for their qualifiers in Manila, Philippines with the tournament beginning July 4, and running through to July 10.
“I will not be participating in the Olympic competitions with the Tall Blacks this summer,” said Adams.
“This was a very difficult decision as I take tremendous pride in being a New Zealander. The Tall Blacks organisation has been extremely supportive and we felt it was best to make an announcement now as preparations have already begun for the qualifying tournament and the Games.”
Henare says that while it would have been preferential to see Adams representing New Zealand this summer, he is looking forward to the 2016 campaign with a team of strong players.
“Of course we would have liked to have Steven join the 2016 campaign. I’ve said it before that he is world class and would bring plenty to our group, just as we believe the Tall Blacks environment would offer plenty to Steve,” said Henare.
“Our history shows the Tall Blacks are a formidable team that can mix it with the best in the world, I think you’ll find that 2016 is no different. The Tall Blacks have a proud history and a strong culture that produces focused and committed teams.
“Steve and his support team have made it clear that they want to keep in touch about the possibility of future participation. Steve has not ruled anything out in that regard, so perhaps we’ll see him in a black singlet one day. The door is always open and Steve is aware of that. We look forward to continued positive and open dialogue with Steve and his team, something we have enjoyed these past 18 months.
“Our focus right now is on bringing together the strongest possible group of players committed to wearing the black singlet in Rio. The silver lining here is that we have certainty early on, while not the answer we wanted, we can now focus solely on bringing together a strong group of players and finalising our build up campaign for the qualifying tournament in Manilla.”
New Zealand face off against France and the hosts, the Philippines.