The Aon New Zealand Under 17 Boys have soundly defeated Hong Kong 124-61 in their opening game at the FIBA Under 16* Asia Cup in Foshan, China on Monday.
New Zealand dominated in many facets of the game, shooting a scorching hot 60 per cent from the field and 46.4 per cent from three. They also held a significant advantage in rebounding, recording 52 rebounds to Hong Kong's 25.
New Zealand displayed some tough defence throughout the game, making life difficult for Hong Kong on the perimeter and in the paint, holding them to just 36 per cent shooting from the field.
The Under 17's used a balanced scoring attack to pace themselves throughout the game. Mitchell Dance led the way with 18 points, seven rebounds and two steals on 6-of-10 shooting. Te Tuaio Rautangata had himself a perfect game, shooting 6-of-6 from the field (4-of-4 from three) en-route to 16 points. Five players, including Dance and Rautangata, scored in double figures for New Zealand.
New Zealand Head Coach Dave Bublitz called the win a "positive start" for the team, with all members contributing to their success tonight.
"78 points off the bench is a testament to this," said Bublitz.
New Zealand will have a day off before facing China on Wednesday at 10pm (NZT), and Coach Bublitz said the boys are remaining focused despite today's big victory.
"The boys aren't getting too carried away as they're well aware China will be a much tougher assignment," he said.
This Asia Cup is a big event for these players, who are seeking qualification to the FIBA Under 17 World Cup in Rosario and Santa Fe, Argentina, starting June 30. The teams that finish in the top four of this Asia Cup will qualify.
(*Clarification: Please note that New Zealand and FIBA’s age-group terminology are different – FIBA Under 16’s means up until the age of 17, which is the equivalent of New Zealand’s Under 17’s.)
· The team roster: http://nz.basketball/News/aon-nz-u17-boys-named-as-fiba-draws-asia-cup
· See FIBA’s tournament website here: http://www.fiba.basketball/asia/u16/2017/news/draw-results-in-for-fiba-u16-asian-championship
· More basketball news at www.nz.basketball and Basketball New Zealand’s social media channels: @BasketballNZ Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.