The New Zealand Women secured an historic win at the FIBA Under 17 World Cup in Minsk on Friday beating hosts Belarus 73-59.
The victory represented New Zealand’s first ever win at a Women’s FIBA Age-Group World Cup, an event they are attending for the first time.
Tara Manumaleuga led all scorers with 19 points, Tayla Dalton scored 14 points (6/10FG) and Charlisse Leger-Walker and Shauna Povey added 10 points apiece. Sharne Pupuke-Robati (12 points and 13 rebounds) and Jazzmyne Kailahi-Fulu (8 points, 15 rebounds and 5 steals) were dominant on the boards as New Zealand won the rebounding count 54-39.
New Zealand Head Coach Lori McDaniel was naturally delighted with the result.
“The coaching staff, management and players are absolutely stoked to get the win and not just a win but a very convincing one.
“We had players like Sharne Pupuke-Robati putting together some really great numbers across the board, Jazz Kailahi-Fulu doing the same thing with points and rebounds. Tara Manumaleuga came off the bench and led the scoring which was fantastic and Charlisse Leger-Walker ensured we got the ball to the right people - we have some players stepping up doing some great things.
“The coaching staff are doing a good job of communicating and working everyone where we can. We are using our trainings to try and improve every game and if we keep that up hopefully we get good looks at the final two games,” McDaniel added.
After an even first half, shaded 29-28 by Belarus, New Zealand grabbed the initiative at the beginning of the third period outscoring the hosts 12-1. Povey and Manumaleuga both knocked down threes as the Kiwis moved the ball with pace and accuracy to find the open shooter.
Belarus fought their way back into the contest but a buzzer beating three from Dalton ensured New Zealand were well placed at three-quarter time leading 52-45.
Povey and Pupuke-Robati initiated a decisive 8-2 run at the start of the fourth period and from there New Zealand, with Leger-Walker controlling proceedings, eased to a famous victory.
The Kiwis will next face Mali, who proved too good for Argentina, in a 9th-12th placed classification game (tip-off 00.30 Sunday NZT).
NZ 73 - T Manumaleuga 19, T Dalton 14, S Pupuke-Robati 12/13r, C Leger-Walker 10, S Povey 10, J Kailahi-Fulu 8/15r
Belarus 59 – Y Yakhnavets 10
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
Tournament hashtag: #FIBAU17. Team Hashtag: #BBNZU17