Lincoln – Sophomore Tai Webster begins a busy summer this weekend, as he returns to New Zealand in hopes of making the senior team’s roster for the FIBA World Cup.
Webster, who hails from Auckland, New Zealand, is one of 17 players selected to the camp. He has been in Lincoln training and taking summer classes which end this week. The competition begins for Webster next week, as New Zealand hosts Korea in a three-game series beginning on July 15 in Wellington. It is one of five events that New Zealand will participate in prior to the FIBA World Cup in late August.
New Zealand will play in the Three Nations Tournament in Korea, travel through China, Lithuania and Serbia before opening the 2014 FIBA World Cup on Aug. 30 against Turkey.
“What we have identified is we are maybe a little thin in the guard line,” Nenad Vucinic said after trimming the roster from 24 to 17 players this week. “Tai (Webster) boosts our stocks in that regard when he arrives on Monday. He was with us a couple of years ago and enjoyed a good season with Nebraska, and we are hoping that he comes back in good shape and good form and is able to slot in quickly.”
If Webster makes the World Cup roster, he will be tested in a six-team bracket that includes Team USA (Sept. 2), Turkey (Aug. 30), Dominican Republic (Aug. 31), Ukraine (Sept. 3) and Finland (Sept. 4)
Webster started 30 games for the Huskers in 2013-14, helping Nebraska make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998. He averaged 3.9 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. He topped the Huskers with 63 assists and reached double figures four times as a true freshman.
Webster made his national team debut in 2012, leading New Zealand in scoring three times in six contests in his first competition on the senior national team. He averaged 13.5 points per game in the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament, while shooting 52.5 percent from the field. He made his debut at age 17, becoming the youngest player to make the New Zealand National Team.