The Junior Tall Blacks have officially qualified for the Under 19 World Cup with an 87-72 win over Iran on Thursday.
The victory also means they advance to the semifinals at the FIBA Asian Championship and will either play Korea or China tomorrow.
New Zealand managed to score the first eight points of the game and started on a 13-2 run overall. The offence looked fluent and they were keeping Iran in check defensively, too. Iran steadied themselves and closed the gap before the end of the quarter, but New Zealand still had themselves a 21-14 lead.
NZ led by as much as nine during the second quarter, but a late run by Iran closed the gap to 38-35 at halftime. Iran would battle back to take a brief lead midway through the third, however, New Zealand put together a rally of their own to build a 63-50 lead heading into the fourth. NZ clamped down when they needed to and managed to secure a big-time win against an opponent that came into the game undefeated.
James Moors was phenomenal with 26 points and 14 rebounds on 8-of-14 shooting from the field. Kruz Perrott-Hunt had himself another productive outing, posting 19 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Flynn Cameron finished with 15 points, four rebounds, eight assists and a whopping seven steals on 6-of-12 shooting.
Head Coach Gavin Briggs is thrilled with the team’s effort but said the hard work doesn’t stop now.
“It was a great game by the boys today, they really locked into what our gameplan was. The Iran team love attacking the rim and we had the goal of turning them into jump-shooters and I think the boys did a pretty good job of that.
“James [Moors] was huge for us, especially from the free throw line by keeping the score ticking over, and Kruz [Perrott-Hunt] had a solid game, too.
“Overall it was a great team effort by all of the guys that played today. The support from the bench, too, was great."
It’ll be the second appearance at the Under 19 World Cup for Coach Briggs and Assistant Coach Leyton Haddleton, and they’re excited to return.
“We came here with a goal to finish top-4 and qualify for the World Cup, and we’ve done that. Now it’s just about taking it one game at a time,” said Briggs.
“It’s great to be heading back to the World Cup again. This format has certainly helped us and Oceania. We’re really looking forward to next year.”
All of the games will be livestreamed on FIBA’s Youtube channel, and you can also watch New Zealand’s games on the Basketball New Zealand Facebook page.
Team schedule (all times NZT):
August 5 vs. Bahrain – 94-62 (W)
August 6 vs. Thailand – 89-47 (W)
August 7 vs. Australia – 111-62 (L)
August 8-11: Classification and Finals
2018 Junior Tall Blacks (New Zealand Under 19)
Flynn Cameron, New Zealand
Matthew O’Connell, Taranaki
Tama Faamausili, Palmerston North
Max DeGeest, Canterbury
Kruz Perrott-Hunt, Harbour
Oscar Oswald, Palmerston North
Maxim Stephens, Waikato
Max Darling, Canterbury
Tomas Higgins, Canterbury
James Moors, Harbour
Sam Mennenga, Harbour
Nathan Hanna, Otago
Gavin Briggs - Head Coach
Miles Pearce - Assistant Coach
Leyton Haddleton - Assistant Coach
Charles Maaka - Team Manager
Dawn Chalmers - Team Physio
· See FIBA’s tournament website here: https://www.fiba.basketball/asia/u18/2018
· More basketball news at www.nz.basketball and Basketball New Zealand’s social media channels: @BasketballNZ Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.