Basketball New Zealand, the organization, like USA Basketball, that runs international competition for the country of New Zealand reported that the Oklahoma City Thunder will not release Steven Adams to play in their upcoming series against the country of Australia.
The New Zealand basketball team, nicknamed the Tall Backs, were very optimistic as they raised the $25,000 to cover Adams insurance, if he was to come and play in the home-and-away series that starts on August 14th. However, an Oklahoma City spokesperson said “Steven will remain in the States to continue his training here during that time.”
BBNZ chief executive Iain Potter gave his thoughts about Adams being in the United States for training, and not with his country team.
“The reason there was a glimmer of optimism he would make it is he was on record as saying he was coming to New Zealand for a while after summer camp and summer camp finishes at the beginning of August,” Potter said.
“His enthusiasm for New Zealand and wanting to play for New Zealand is genuine but his new reality is the Oklahoma team is where he’s got to put his attention.”
Now the country is looking forward to the 2014 FIBA World Cup, and hopful that Adams can be apart of their team then. Potter believes that there will be more pressure on Oklahoma City to release Adams, seeing how they allow Kevin Durant Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka to play in international competitions.
Adams, who played well for the Oklahoma City Summer League team back in July has stayed in the United States working on his game, getting prepared for the upcoming season. He’s expected to be the third center on an already deep roster, and spend a lot of time in the D-League affiliate, Tulsa 66ers organization throughout the season.
A source within the Thunder organization said had their been an international tournament, Adams would have been released for competition.
“Had their been competition, such as the World Champions, Adams would have been able to play, but as it is just a single international friendly, we don’t see the benefit in having in New Zealand at this time. ”
Adams is the first first ever Kiwi to be selected in the first round of the N.B.A. Draft, and is one of the more high profile athletes in New Zealand. He’s recently signed with Adidas, and will wear their shoe, and clothing throughout the season.