The Junior Tall Blacks have opened their FIBA Under 18 Asian Championship campaign with a 94-62 win over Bahrain on Sunday evening.
New Zealand jumped out to a big 35-15 lead after the first quarter, led by Max de Geest with nine points on 3-of-3 shooting from three. They established themselves offensively early on in the contest and were able to get whatever they wanted on that end of the floor throughout the game.
The success on offence was one thing, but New Zealand did a tremendous job defensively, too, and it’s a big reason why they were able to keep well ahead of Bahrain. With de Geest up to 14 points and Kruz Perrott-Hunt contributing eight, they held a 57-28 advantage at the half.
New Zealand kept building the lead behind de Geest and company, as they stretched the lead to 75-40 after the third. Their 3-point shooting cooled off in the third quarter, but they were still finding ways to score on Bahrain with ease.
Despite the dominating performance by New Zealand, they remained focused throughout the game and made sure to continue separating themselves quarter-to-quarter.
Max de Geest was superb for New Zealand finishing with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field and 4-of-7 from three. James Moors finished with 14 points and five rebounds, Kruz Perrott-Hunt contributed 10 points, six rebounds and one steal on 4-of-6 shooting (1-of-1 3PT), and Maxwell Darling narrowly missed out on a double-double with nine points, 11 rebounds, two assists, one steal and two blocks on 3-of-5 shooting from the floor.
Assistant Coach Leyton Haddleton said it was a solid performance first up and it was good to get lots of guys minutes with the commanding victory.
“Good to get a solid win out of the gate and get lots of people minutes. We got off to a really hot start, shooting 85 per cent from the 3-point line in the first quarter. Max [de Geest] lit it up off the bench. He came in and knocked down three 3-pointers in a row and that set the tone for us.
“The thing that we need to work on is that we gave up 25 turnovers and 18 offensive rebounds. Those are effort areas that we need to tighten up on especially coming into bigger games, but overall pretty happy with the result.
Host-nation Thailand awaits New Zealand tomorrow afternoon and will have the backing of the crowd. It will be a different challenge for the boys and they’ll need to come prepared.
Haddleton said the team has a practice scheduled for later this evening and then again tomorrow morning prior to the game.
“The schedule gets pretty tough now, so it’s about taking care of their bodies and staying rested. Today’s big win meant the boys are fairly well rested and should be good to go tomorrow.”
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 @ 8:30pm
August 7 vs. Australia @ 3:30pm
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.