WINNING START FOR NEW ZEALAND BASKETBALLERS
New Zealand won 3 of 4 games combined across the men’s and women’s teams at the FIBA World U18 3x3 Championships in Hungary overnight, with the women ending day one of pool play with a perfect record while the men recovered from the loss of their first game against France to defeat Turkey.
The men started slowly against an impressive French team in pool C, with the French the only team with a perfect two from two record at the end of the first day. But they showed their tournament potential with a strong performance against Turkey in game two, ending the day in 4th place in the pool with the top four to go through to knockout play.
The women showed wonderful poise to defeat Estonia in a thriller in their first game before downing powerhouse China by four points in the second to sit on top of their pool with the only perfect day one record.
Head Coach Anthony Corban spoke about the Kiwis first day efforts.
“It was a nervous start against Estonia for the girls, something we expected so had in a way planned for it as we slowly worked into an offensive rhythm, coming from behind to close the game out on the back of our hustle plays and offensive rebounding.
“We were badly outsized against China but again we knew this so out-hustled them and outworked them when it mattered. Krystal hit a couple of important dagger two point shots to put us in front and despite been outsized our guards refused to give up. Kelcy had a great game finishing off no-ball screens and Tee and Kenny were again key scorers when it mattered.
“For the boys we had a poor start against France but managed to get ourselves into the game and in front with about two minutes to go but it was just one of those games, there were repeated stops for score clock malfunctions which stopped us getting into an offensive rhythm and two turnovers in the last minute hurt us. The foul count was high in this game--players need to learn to adjust to different officiating on each court at this tournament. No doubt this was a great wake up call for our group.
“Turkey were then on the receiving end of our anger and frustration after that opening game loss to France. The ‘bigs’ attacked the rim and threw down several monster dunks and Matt Freeman got hot late in the game and knocked down some confidence boasting two point shots.”
Both teams have another two pool games tonight New Zealand time as they target a high finish and easier draw in the knockout stages of the tournament being played in Debrecen, Hungary.
NZ 12 def Estonia 10, NZ 15 def China 11
France 19 def NZ 14, NZ 19 def Turkey 11
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