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26 Nov 2018
Born and bred Wellingtonian, Tom Vodanovich, is making his Tall Blacks debut this Sunday at the TSB Arena when the Tall Blacks face off against Syria in one of two their upcoming FIBA World Cup Qualifiers. We chat to him about what he loves about his hometown, the Wellington basketball scene and what it means to make his Tall Blacks debut in on his turf.
What part of Wellington do you live in, and what do you like about it?
I grew up in Khandallah and went to Ngaio Primary School. Then I went to Eastbourne to play rugby at Wellesley College. Now I live out in Kapiti Coast. I love it out there – it’s always two degrees warmer than the city, the views, the drive and living by the beach. And it’s not that far to the awesome city of Wellington.
I guess it's fair to say that basketball must be your life? But apart from b-ball, what else do you like to get up to when you're in Wellington?
I like to take advantage of the beaches when the weather is good – it’s true when people say, ‘You can’t beat Wellington on a good day’. And, of course, you can beat a L’affare coffee in the morning, and maybe later in the day, grabbing a brew at Garage Project – two great exports rolling straight out of Te Aro.
What are your favourite things about Wellington's basketball scene and culture?
The youth development is going great in Wellington for basketball. It started well with Kenny McFadden back in the day. And Wellington Basketball is doing a grab job now too – shout out for Voldi Simi who works there. It will continue to grow as it gets more popular, and we’ll be seeing some more Tall Blacks and Tall Ferns from the region.
What are some of your favourite public spaces around the capital, and why?
Oriental Parade and the waterfront for a run, Courtney Place for food and a drink and the Kapiti Coast for some R&R.
Any particular favourite spots you like to go to?
I really like Boulcott Street Bistro Restaurant for special occasions. The food and service is amazing.
Where do you like to go shopping around the city?
You can always find what you need around Cuba Mall.
If you're looking to have a night out around town, where do you go, and why?
Not much of a nightlife enthusiast! But on the rare occasion I do get dragged out, somehow we always end up in Mishmosh.
Do you ever use the public library? What's your favourite section of the library?
Not as often as I should, but I highly recommend the Natural History section.
Is there anything we Wellingtonians should be keeping an eye out in the local basketball scene?
Plenty going on in basketball, but of course the Tall Blacks are playing for a World Cup spot at the TSB Arena this Sunday at 3pm. If we beat Jordan on Thursday in Christchurch, then we are one win away from going to the FIBA World Cup in China next year.
When I was young, we hardly ever got a chance to see the Tall Blacks play – they were usually playing overseas. But now, with these new World Cup Qualifiers, Kiwi kids get to see quality international basketball and the Tall Blacks in the flesh. Hopefully, they will get to see an historic game in Wellington this weekend.
This is your debut selection for the Tall Blacks – how are you feeling about it, and will you be doing anything to mark the occasion? If so, what will you be doing?
There’s 14 of us in the squad and it’s an honour to be named. It’s been a dream of mine for a long time to be a Tall Black and, hopefully, I get a chance to step on court. If I get my Tall Blacks debut in the town I grew up in, in front of family and friends who are Wellingtonians, that would be the icing on cake.