The New Zealand women’s 3x3 basketball team has swooped into the quarter finals of the 3x3 Asia Cup in Mongolia after defeating India 16 to 15, and Kyrgyzstan 21 to 9.
The team was tested before the tip-off, mentally coming to grips without the opportunity of a warm-up. The venue in Ulaanbaatar does not have a warm-up facility and, while some games were given the opportunity to do a shooting warm-up, the New Zealand vs India game tipped off cold. It appeared to take a toll as the Kiwis struggled to fire early. Head Coach Anthony Corban said this game was too close for comfort.
“Overall not having any warm up left us flat. India had played a game about 120 minutes earlier and had retained their shooting touch. We managed to go ahead 3-0 early, but then we missed perimeter close-outs and India shot the ball really well. We added pressure by missing four free throws.
“We came from five points down, with three minutes to go, to slowly reel India back. Two two-pointers from Stirling Walker Pitman got us back level, and then Jess Bygate hit two free throws to put us up two with 25 seconds to go. We played a great defensive possession to deny India a last chase to score.
“Our bigs started the game well with Bygate and Franklin feeding well off each other.
“It was our young point guard, Stirling Walker-Pitman, that turned the game around with two clutch two pointers,” said Corban.
In game two against Kyrgyzstan, Corban and the team made some offensive adjustments and it showed. The New Zealand women overpowered Kyrgyzstan with their post action and back screen play.
“We banked on our offensive and defensive rebounding power to squeeze our opponent out of the game. Again Franklin and Bygate were outstanding, as was as Stirling Walker-Pitman who showed good touches finishing off the dribble,” said Corban.
Tash Lenden has taken a little while to adjust to the pace and shortened version of 3x3, but signed off the game with an effortless jump shot to put 21 on our opponent.
The New Zealand women will now face the second placed team in Pool B in the quarter-final stage, at 5:20pm 29 October NZT.
Today the men’s competition begins, with two tough teams in the pool round. New Zealand needs to win one of these to go through to the quarter finals. The first will be against Australia at 7:50pm (Saturday 28 Oct, NZT) followed by a game against Qatar at 11:55pm (Saturday 28 Oct, NZT).
For more on the event go to FIBA's Tournaments webpage here: http://www.fiba.basketball/3x3asiacup/2017
The event is being livestreamed HERE.
Women’s 3x3 New Zealand Team:
Men’s 3x3 New Zealand Team:
• Anthony Corban, Head Coach
• Leanne Walker, Assistant Coach