Aaron Bailey-Nowell is off to China with the Breakers.
Taranaki Mountain Airs basketballer Aaron Bailey-Nowell is off to China with the Breakers.
The callup came out of the blue for the 29-year-old forward after a season where his team missed the playoffs.
"I was just blown away to get the call. Things happen, it's all good," he said yesterday.
Bailey-Nowell said he got wind of the callup from Taranaki coach Angelo Hill.
"Angelo called me and told me I had to ring Dean Vickerman, the assistant coach with the Breakers. He didn't have my number," he said. "I rang Dean and he asked if I wanted to go to China with the Breakers. I said, are you for real?
The reality of the trip soon set. "I've been stressing all week. My passport expired back in May and I'd been meaning to get it renewed. I've had to have it rushed through and it's been sent to the Breakers. Hopefully it's there on Saturday morning along with a Chinese visa.
It's the first callup Bailey-Nowell has had for a top-level team for several years. "I went to the Tall Blacks trials in 2006, but nothing happened. A couple of years before that, I had a trial with the Breakers. I've been off the radar since. This is a nice surprise," he said.
The Breakers will play in a three-day tournament in Beijing with the opposition including the Melbourne Tigers and a couple of teams from the United States.
The NZ Breakers basketball team leave today for a hastily arranged trip to China to play in an annual pre-season tournament following the last minute withdrawal of one of the participating teams.
In the absence of the club's New Zealand team players and head coach Andrej Lemanis, assistant coach Dean Vickerman will take a predominantly developmental side to China for the six team Lu An International Invitation Tournament in Changzhi.
The Breakers join the Melbourne Tigers, ACB Unicaja (Spain), Shanghai, Liaoning and an American team in the all expenses paid tournament, with each playing for a winner's purse of $US15,000 ($NZ20,460).
The tournament gives the Breakers the chance to give valuable experience to some younger players, while also taking the chance to trial prospective imports for the upcoming Australian National Basketball League season.