New Zealand has won the FIBA U18 World U18 3x3 Championships, defeating Argentina in the final in Hungary this morning, 20-18.
The Kiwi men dominated finals day, smashing Russia 21-13 in the quarter finals and another powerhouse Spain 21-8 in the semifinals before accounting for Argentina in a thrilling final, winning 20-18.
Tai Wynyard was named tournament MVP as the Kiwis put the country on the world basketball map yet again, winning the tournament for the second time after the success of the young New Zealanders in 2011.
Head Coach Anthony Corban was hugely proud of this team and their efforts.
“The boys have just been amazing and while we are always humble in these moments, we have just dominated the best in the world today. We are a big team and today they turned on the style, it looked like it was coming after a great shooting session to get ready this morning and the boys just took it into the games today.
“I am just a small part of this, once the game gets underway I am not allowed to coach, the boys are on their own but their leadership is outstanding. We have some pretty good signals going on between me and captain Nikau McCullough – a bit like a baseball coach from the dugout, but the boys have just been superb and Nikau’s captaincy brilliant, he has taken to the task superbly and contributed in a big way to this success.
“Sam is an exciting talent, he is Tall Black material and is already committed to a good University in Washington next year, he has a high basketball IQ and has come out of a really good programme with Mark Dickel, he is one of a special group of players emerging out of our country.
“Tai is perhaps the most relaxed young man I have worked with, off court he is in that space and on court nothing phases him, Kentucky will be rubbing their hands together, they have a special Kiwi talent coming their way. He has developed so well at the Breakers and I know Paul Henare (Tall Blacks coach) will be watching him closely, as he will with Sam.
“Matt has delivered throughout the tournament and in all three games today. I chose him as a shooter which raised a few eyebrows but he delivered today in some clutch moments, he too has come out of a very good programme with Westlake Boys.”
Corban was also proud of the girls’ team, who finished in the round of 16.
“Krystal did a great job leading this young team in what was a great learning experience. We had 42 seconds of madness that cost us against Italy but that is a reflection of the age of the team and their inexperience at this level. I am sure we were a medal chance had we made it through, but they will come back better for the experience and exposure to the best opposition in the world.”
This is the second time New Zealand has won the title after their first up success in 2011 and Corban has no doubt as to the level of player coming through the New Zealand system.
“The game just deserves the success it is getting. There has been criticism in the past and I have probably been amongst it, but Iain Potter and the team at Basketball New Zealand are doing a great job with limited resources to develop the game. Parents are asked to contribute at age group level and that is the way it has had to be, they want to see their players succeed and resources are limited. But the game is bringing through an exciting group of both young men and young women and they deserve the chance to play on the global stage.”
Watch the final again at https://youtu.be/IaefltkPAjg?t=5h45m