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Pero jets north for summer expedition

Chester Jets captain Pero Cameron will represent New Zealand at the FIBA World Championships in Indianapolis in August and September. We'll be following his preparations and progress in a series of looks at basketball's biggest event.

Mark Woods

Pero Cameron is back in Europe. But don't expect to see the Chester Jets star dropping into the Northgate for a summer shoot around with Mike Burton just yet.

Cameron has the serious business of the World Championships to look forward to, with a trip to Indianapolis with his native Tall Blacks on the horizon for the end of this month.

The Kiwi squad have left the southern hemisphere behind and have touched down in France for the first in a series of warm-up games ahead of their American adventure.

Following on from the Sydney Olympics, few expected New Zealand to reach the global showpiece. But a surprise defeat of perennial Oceania masters Australia sent them forth to this summer's 12 team finale.

Cameron, who will once again skipper his country, is looking forward to the challenge. 

But the BBL's resident iron man admits that after a campaign which brought a clean sweep back to Chester, he was grateful for an unexpected rest.

"I went back to New Zealand straight after the end of the BBL season," he outlines. "But then I got injured during the trials and missed a few of our warm-up games.

"It could have been a blessing in disguise. Ive played four years non-stop with summer and winter seasons and the few weeks that I was forced to take off has left me feeling quite fresh now."

Having missed a segment of New Zealand's preparation, two games against the French will provide some useful practice.

He adds: "Were heading to Hanover after the weekend to play against Germany, Lithuania and Yugoslavia which is going to be a huge test for us. Its ideal preparation. Theyve all got guys who play, or could play, in the NBA and theyre all very physical.

"Then we go to Canada for two Tests against them before flying down to Notre Dame and then into Indy."

Even from the other side of the globe, Cameron has kept a close eye on the comings and goings in the BBL - particularly at the Northgate where his coach Robbie Peers has been constructing a side to match their unprecedented achievements of last season.

Cameron will be back. But he insists that those who have left - John Thomas and James Hamilton - depart to fresh pastures with no rancour from their former colleagues.

It happens. Its part of the game, of this business," he confirms. 

"Johns a phenomenal player, an incredible point guard. But good on him. He wanted to go on to bigger and better things like we all do. You only have 15 years in the business and who can blame him for making the most of it?

"Same with James. Hes a great friend but he had a good opportunity to go to France. Hell be sorely missed but good luck to him."

The rock-solid forward is nonetheless impressed with Peers' re-tooling which will give him plentiful front court support. A repeat, he asserts, is not beyond his imagination.

"Its all about chemistry," he offers.

"We had a great group of guys who worked really hard for each other and I hope that will remain. 

"John McCord and Calvin Davis are great characters on and off the court. 

"Todd Cauthorn is a very good player and hes just what we need. So well see what happens with the other new players coming in."

Before his return to the Jets however, there is the prospect of an outing on basketball's biggest stage. 

New Zealand will still rank as outsiders for glory. But Cameron will take with him the David duffing up Goliath mentality fostered in Chester last term, one employed to such devastating effect.

"Im fully fit. And now myself and the rest of the team just have to concentrate on our preparations for Indianapolis. 

"We're not there just to make up the numbers."

Part Ii: America's Dream coveted by world

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