The New Zealand women’s team has won gold at the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup in Shenzhen, China.
It took a gritty performance in the final to get past hosts China, but they did enough to get the job done for a 14-11 victory.
Micaela Cocks was named tournament MVP for the women, adding to the hardware that’ll be headed back to New Zealand.
“It was such an exciting game to play and we are all so thankful that we got the opportunity to play 3x3 for the first time. I am so proud of our team and we showed the NZ way of never giving up, especially in the semi-final against Australia,” said Cocks.
It looked all but over for the women in their semi-final matchup against defending champs Australia, but a sensational comeback and game-winning 2-pointer by Cocks helped them pull off a major upset.
“It was the definition of NZ basketball, grit, never give up, hustle for everything – it’s what we’ve been taught and what we live by,” she said.
Head coach Leanne Walker was proud of the ladies for their tremendous effort.
“Coming back in the dying stages of the game showed poise, passion and persistence. It’s hard to pick one outstanding player, and that was the absolute key to us getting that game.
“Everyone’s contributions were instrumental in shutting the Aussies out of a back-to-back trip to the finals,” said Walker.
Walker said it was a collective effort in winning the gold.
“The girls sealed the win over China with a gutsy, smart performance. It was a total team effort.”
The men’s team couldn’t quite top their second-place finish in the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup, finishing fourth after a loss to Japan in the bronze medal game.
The men, however, did pull off a massive win over China in their quarterfinal matchup. Rory Fannon nailed the game-winning layup to set up a date with defending champs Mongolia in the semi-finals. Mongolia, though, proved too much, grabbing a 21-16 victory.
Head coach Anthony Corban said it was a gutsy performance by the team in Shenzhen, but fatigue took a toll as the tournament wore on.
“When it really mattered, we locked China down and our physical strength and desire to get the win stood out. Everyone contributed. It was a total team performance,” he said.
“However, the heat, humidity and effort of this game would haunt us in later games.”
“We just didn’t have the leg speed to close out on shooters or contain dribble penetration,” said Corban of their semi-final matchup with Mongolia.
“Our group struggled to cope with the local conditions, which Mongolia thrived in.”
Rory Fannon went down with a knee injury against Japan and the team was forced to play without a substitution for the final five minutes of the contest.
Corban said it was tough on the team, but they showed grit by fighting until the very end.
“We had two free throws to win the game (and made one of two). Our team was also in the two free throw penalty, so on the dribble clearance after the second free throw, Japan isolated our defender and made a tough shot to win 21-20.
“It was a tough way for the group to lose a game they nearly stole. Onwards and upwards. A fourth-place finish is ideal preparation for the FIBA 3x3 World Cup in June,” said Corban.
The 3x3 World Cup will take place in the Philippines from June 8-12. Only the men will be participating for New Zealand, but with their gold medal finish at the Asia cup the women have certainly put themselves on the map.
Highlights and full games from the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/user/3x3planet.
· See FIBA’s tournament website here: http://www.fiba.basketball/3x3asiacup/2018
· More basketball news at www.nz.basketball and Basketball New Zealand’s social media channels: @BasketballNZ Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.