New Zealand finished 12th in their first ever appearance at a Women’s FIBA Age-Group World Cup after going down 88-66 to China in Belarus on Sunday.
Charlisse Leger-Walker led all scorers with 23 points and added 11 rebounds and 4 steals. Tara Manumaleuga contributed 18 points (5/9 3PG) and Jazz Kailahi-Fulu secured 7 rebounds and 8 points.
New Zealand fell 17-11 behind in the first quarter and 45-26 at half-time.
Things looked to be turning ugly in the middle of the third period when the Kiwis fell thirty points behind but they rallied behind three triples from Manumaleuga and scores from Helen Matthews, Tayla Dalton and Kailahi-Fulu to cut the deficit to 59-43 at the three-quarter mark.
To their credit the Kiwis battled gamely in the final period but couldn’t make further in-roads into the Chinese advantage.
New Zealand Head Coach Lori McDaniel lamented her team’s sluggish opening.
“After a very slow first half the girls made some really great adjustments and came out with a lot of fight.
“The Chinese shot the ball unnervingly well which is a credit to them but our girls showed some great fight. Tayla Dalton, really good ethic defensively, Charlisse (Leger-Walker) controlling the pace of the game offensively and Tara (Manumaleuga) stepping up and getting some good buckets for us. Everyone played today and everyone put in a good effort.
“Overall I think we have showed we can compete on this world stage.
“It’s just a case of when we get home we are working on these little skill things to get better so that we are not just competing but we are winning,” added McDaniel.
Leger-Walker, a tireless leader, finished the tournament placed fourth highest individual scorer (15.1ppg) and eighth highest rebounder (8.0rpg).
Manumaleuga averaged 12 points per game and finished twelfth highest scorer.
Kailahi-Fulu was the fourth highest rebounder (9.0rpg) and Sharne Pupuke-Robati twelfth (7.0rpg).
In the gold medal game USA proved much too good for France winning 92-40 and Australia clamed bronze beating Hungary 57-51.
NZ 66 - C Leger-Walker 23/11r, T Manumaleuga 18, J Kailahi-Fulu 8/7r. S Pupuke-Robati 5, H Matthews 4, M Hema 3, S Povey 3, T Dalton 2
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.
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, Twitter and Instagram
Tournament hashtag: #FIBAU17. Team Hashtag: #BBNZU17