Author predicts a big future for NZ basketball

Author predicts a big future for NZ basketball

9 February 2015, 5:39PM
AWA Press Publicity

John Saker

In a country where rugby is a national obsession, basketball has always struggled to find a place in the sun. All this is about to change according to former player John Saker.

Saker says the success of New Zealand’s NBA wunderkind Steven Adams, the signing of Tai Winyard to the University of Kentucky, the ongoing heroics of the Breakers in the Australian National Basketball League, and a Tall Blacks side that never fails to punch above its weight are all contributing to a surge in momentum.

“There’s a gifted generation of players coming through, many of whom have tasted, or are tasting, success in the States. And it’s only going to get better. Adams’ amazing career has both raised the profile of New Zealand basketball over there and inspired other young New Zealanders to take up the sport and aim high.

“Our national team is already a national treasure – to be ranked 21st in the world in one of the very few global sports is a fantastic achievement. And I can only see that ranking improving over the next few years.”

Saker became New Zealand’s first pro basketball player when he took up a contract in France in the 1970s. Before that he was one of the first Kiwis to attend a US university on a basketball scholarship. On March 14 his book Open Looks: My Life in Basketball (Awa Press, $28) hits bookstores. It covers his sporting life, from shooting hoops as a troubled teenager to his debut for the Tall Blacks, playing in the US and France, and attending a rather strange reunion of old teammates in Montana. He ends the book with a terrific story of playing street basketball in his fifties at Los Angeles’ famed Venice Beach.

Saker is a wine writer for Cuisine and The Sunday Star-Times, author of How to Drink a Glass of Wine, Pinot Noir: The New Zealand Story and Vinacular: A Wine Lover’s A–Z, and an award-winning travel writer.

To receive a review copy of Open Looks, arrange an author interview or request cover and author images, please contact Emma Wolff at Awa Press, phone 471-1834; email

Please note the book’s release date: March 14.