Photo credit: FIBA
It was a struggle but the Aon New Zealand Women’s U17 team won their final pool game at the 2017 FIBA U16* Women’s Asian Championship in Bangalore on Tuesday beating Chinese Taipei 71-66.
Victory secures second place in Group A for New Zealand, but they had to come from 54-53 down early in the final period to secure the win.
A 10-0 run in the middle of the fourth, fuelled by scores from Charlisse Leger-Walker, Sharne Pupuke-Robati, Briarley Rogers and Kyra Paniora took NZ to a 63-54 lead and appeared finally to have seen off the determined Chinese Taipei challenge.
Taipei then responded with a 7-0 run of there own and when Leger-Walker exited with 1:44 to play, after picking up her fifth foul, an upset appeared a possibility.
However Tayla Dalton converted a lay-up on the next play, courtesy of a heads up Jordyn Maddix assist, to take the advantage to 65-61.
Taipei was not finished and their eighth triple of the night closed the gap to a single point (65-64) with 1:05 to play.
To their credit the Kiwis held their nerve down the stretch – Rogers, Maddix and Pupuke-Robati all making critical free throws to preserve the lead and ice a hard earned victory.
Earlier a couple of neat baskets from Leger-Walker (the NZ captain threatened a triple double with 12 rebounds and 7 assists to accompany a game high 28 points) and successful trips to the foul line for Rogers and Helen Matthews kept New Zealand in touch as Taipei went to quarter time leading 20-13.
Isabelle Cook and Pupuke-Robati scored inside baskets early in the second period and despite a three from Leger-Walker the Kiwis still trailed 27-22 at the mid point of the frame.
Pupuke-Robati - the power forward ended with 19 points and 20 rebounds - also knocked a three down before a floater from Leger-Walker (14 points in the first half) gave NZ its first lead of the game (28-27). A pull up jump shot on the half time buzzer from Ella Bradley took the Kiwis to a 33-29 lead at the interval.
Korea was dealing almost exclusively in threes and free throws but it was enough for them to regain the lead early in the third frame. The two teams traded baskets and went to the final break with Taipei leading 50-49.
It remained tight in the fourth with New Zealand coping well with the pressure of a close finish to end pool play with a 2-1 record.
The Kiwis will enjoy a day off tomorrow (Wednesday) before playing a quarter-final tie on Thursday against Thailand (11pm NZT).
NZ head coach Lori McDaniel was naturally delighted with her team’s performance and the two standout individuals in particular.
“Charlisse (Leger-Walker) and Sharne (Pupuke-Robati) both stepped up for us putting up big points on the board which was great.
“The other girls adjusted defensively eventually but we need to be better at adjusting to what is going on in the game. To the girl’s credit they pulled off a win against a very good shooting Chinese Taipei team, a very tough Chinese Taipei team.
“Being able to get a win at this level is what counts and we got it and can now look forward to the quarter-finals.”
NZ 71 – Leger-Walker 28p/12r/7a, Pupuke-Robati 19p/20r. Rogers 7, Dalton 5, Bradley 4, Maddix 2, Paniora 2, Cook 2, Matthews 2
Chinese Taipei 66 – Tseng 15, Hsu 14, Lin 12
The top four teams at the Asian Championship will qualify for that World Cup, which is to be played in Minsk, Belarus next year.
New Zealand was drawn in ‘Group A’ alongside Australia (L 61-43), Korea (W 74-44) and Chinese Taipei.
Now Pool play is completed, the Group A teams will cross over with the Group B teams in the quarter-final match ups. Group B is made up of three times champions China, Japan, Thailand and Hong Kong.
Once Pool Play is completed, the Group A teams will cross over with the Pool B teams in the quarter-final match ups. Pool B is made up of three times champions China, Japan, Thailand and Hong Kong.
For more on the FIBA U16 Women’s Asia Cup, including information about livestreaming, games and times, go to the official FIBA website HERE.
*Clarification: Please note that New Zealand and FIBA’s terminology are different – FIBA Under 16’s means 16 years and younger, which is the equivalent of New Zealand’s Under 17’s.