Taane Samuel will step on the hardcourt of the SMART Araneta Coliseum for the first time in 1,191 days.
The former De La Salle Green Archer will be one of the 12 players that will play for New Zealand when they go up against India in the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers on Thursday.
“It’s my first time coming back in about four years so it’s going to be amazing,” Samuel told Tiebreaker Times.
New Zealand, the 27th-ranked team in the world, will also see the debut of enigma Benjamin Gold. Gold, 18, is a product of the NBA Global Academy.
Completing the Pero Cameron-mentored squad are NZ-NBL MVP Dion Prewster of Melbourne, Jayden Bezzant of Manawatu, Taylor Britt of Perth, Joe Cook-Green of Canterbury, Hyrum Harris of Adelaide, Rob Loe of Auckland, Ethan Rusbatch of Hawke’s, Tom Vodanovich of Sydney, Tai Wynard of Taranaki, and Taki Fahrensohn, who plays for German team Ehingen.
This team has an average height of 6-foot-6 and an average age of 25.
Not in the lineup for the Tall Blacks are young guns Fil-Kiwi Richie Rodger and Brayden Inger.
India, meanwhile, will field the 12 players they brought to the country.
Headlining the 80th-ranked team in the world are Princepal Singh and NBA Academy’s Pranav Prince.
Veterans 6-foot-10 Amritpal Singh of Punjab Police, 6-foot-4 guard Vishesh Bhriguvanshi of ONGC, and 6-foot-2 point guard Muin Bek Hafeez of Indian Bank will also make their returns to the seniors’ team.
Completing the squad are 6-foot-8 Aravind Annadurai of Income Tax, 6-foot-6 Manoj Belur Manjunatha of Karnataka, 6-foot-11 Palpreet Singh Brar of Indian Railways,6-foot-3 Rajeev Kumar of SSCB, 6-foot-2 Arvind Kumar Muthu Krishnan of Tanil Nadu, 6-foot-8 Prashant Singh Rawat of Uttarakhand, and 6-foot-4 Sahaij Pratap Singh Sekhon of Chandigarh.
Head coach of India is Veselin Matić.
Tip-off time is at 3:00 PM.
The second game of each playdate is also livestreamed on SMART Sports.