The New Zealand Women went down 77-37 against Australia in the Round of Sixteen at the FIBA Under 17 World Cup in Minsk, Belarus on Wednesday.
Charlisse Leger-Walker scored 15 points (5/11FG), Sharne Pupuke-Robati was next best with 8 points and Jazz Kailahi-Fulu, featuring in the top ten rebounders at the World Cup, pulled down 7 boards to accompany 6 points.
However Australia demonstrated why they are the reigning Fiba U17 World Cup Champions, putting on a clinical display.
New Zealand Head Coach Lori McDaniel was naturally downbeat when summing up the New Zealand performance.
“It was a disappointing showing against a very tough and well drilled Australian side, unfortunately pressure defence from Aussie got the better of us.”
That pressure was borne out in the shooting statistics and turnover count. The Kiwis only shot 24% (12/51) from the floor and made just 3 from 29 triples – all scored by Leger-Walker. New Zealand turned the ball over on 26 occasions compared with just 9 possession losses by the opposition.
“We need to go away and work on maintaining our composure under pressure, getting off the shots we want and executing our game plan for the next round of three games in the bottom eight.”
“We are looking to achieve a top nine or ten finish, if we can make some improvements,” McDaniel added.
Pupuke-Robati made the first score of the game for New Zealand after Australia had scored the initial seven points. The Waikato pair of Ella Bradley and Leger-Walker were next to score but the Kiwis trailed 23-7 at quarter time.
Kailahi-Fulu made the first two baskets of the second quarter but any chance of a New Zealand revival was snuffed out as Australia increased their lead to 40-19 at half-time, an advantage that continued to grow in the second half.
Shyla Heal, daughter of legendary Australian Boomer Shane Heal, led the scoring for the Sapphires with 20 points.
New Zealand will have a day off before facing hosts Belarus in the first of three classification games to decide places 9-16. That game will begin at 00.30 on Saturday morning (NZT).
New Zealand finished fourth at the FIBA Asian Championship in India last October to clinch a spot at the World Cup. The tournament is an historic occasion as it is the first FIBA Age-Group World Cup ever attended by a New Zealand Women’s team.
NZ 37 - C Leger-Walker 15/7r, S Pupuke-Robati 8, J Kailahi-Fulu 6/7r, H Matthews 4, S Povey 2, E Bradley 2
Australia 77 – S Heal 20, L Scanlon 16
New Zealand U17 Team:
Ella Bradley (Waikato Basketball Association/Waikato Wizards)
Isabelle Cook (Taranaki Basketball Association/Taranaki Thunder)
Tayla Dalton (North Harbour Basketball/Harbour Breeze)
Madison Hema (New Zealand)
Jazzmyne Kailahi-Fulu (North Harbour Basketball/Harbour Breeze)
Charlisse Leger-Walker (Waikato Basketball Association/Waikato Wizards)
Tara Manumaleuga (New Zealand)
Helen Matthews (Canterbury Basketball)
Kyra Paniora (New Zealand)
Sharne Pupuke-Robati (Counties Manukau Basketball/Auckland Dream)
Shauna Povey (Waitakere West Basketball Inc /Auckland Dream)
Emilee Tahata (New Zealand)
The U17 World Cup fixture schedules and box scores can be found on the link below. Live streaming of all games is also be available on this link.
For more information go to www.NZ.basketball
and the @BasketballNZ social media channels: Facebook
Tournament hashtag: #FIBAU17. Team Hashtag: #BBNZU17