Full court press

It’s a big night for sports fans.

At 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time, the National Basketball Association kicks off its 2010-2011 regular season pitting the champion Boston Celtics agains the Miami Heat.

At Amway, we love basketball, and we’ve blogged plenty about the Orlando Magic and their new home. But today, we turn our lens to the other side of the world, where Basketball New Zealand’s Tall  Blacks impressed even the toughest critics in 2010, and are preparing for competition in 2011.

The Tall Blacks’ name is derived from New Zealand’s popular rugby team the All Blacks. Since their debut at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, they’ve become a case study in showing just what an underdog can do. In one world tournament, they finished ahead of FIBA’s top-ranked team, and have been described by their competitors as “gallant,” “deserving of credit on the world stage,” and “the best-shooting team outside of the U.S.”

In New Zealand, basketball isn’t well funded and doesn’t receive as much media coverage as rugby or cricket, but the Tall Blacks coach said it best: “We don’t have any NBA stars on the team, but we play as a team and we show a lot of heart.”

They’re scrappy and we like that. So much so that Amway of New Zealand was proud to be an official sponsor of the Tall Blacks during their last World Championship bid. They finished in the middle of the pack, but to us, they’re top notch.

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