A two-year hiatus from international play and a compromised build-up proved to be too great a hurdle for the Tall Ferns to overcome at the 2021 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup in Amman, Jordan.
Needing to make the semi-finals to advance to the next stage of qualifying for the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup in Australia, the Tall Ferns went down to Australia 72-61 in the semi-final qualification game. The loss meant they had to settle for fifth spot after defeating Chinese Taipei 74-59 in the 5th/6th play-off game.
Below are 10 takes from the week-long tournament.
1 Chevannah Paalvast played her 50th international against Japan.
Chev Paalvast has become just the 18th player to play for New Zealand in 50 or more tests. The West Aucklander has been an integral part of the Tall Ferns since debuting in 2013 whilst still at Monmouth University.
The hard-working guard, who has played in all three Asia Cups that the Tall Ferns have competed at, epitomises the Tall Ferns’ culture with her team-first attitude and commitment to the singlet.
- Penina Davidson likes playing against Korea.
In her 49th appearance for the Tall Ferns the forward logged an impressive stats line of 21 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists and a block.
In 2019, the last time the two teams clashed, Davidson nabbed a double-double having amassed 24 points and 15 rebounds.
Davidson’s performances in her last eight outings for the Tall Ferns deserve to be highlighted. The former Cal Berkeley standout has averaged 15.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.
November 2019 Olympic Qualifiers:
- v Philippines – 16 points & 11 rebounds
- v China – 8p/8r
- v Korea – 24p/15r
2021 Asia Cup:
- v Korea 21p/11r
- v Japan 6p/6r
- v India 18p/11r
- v Australia 6p/5r
- v Chinese Taipei 26p/7r
- Statistical oddity
The two debutants on tour, Ashley Taia and Lauryn Hippolite, both scored with their first shots on the senior international stage. To be more specific, both their account openers were triples.
Taia knocked down a corner three with virtually her first touch of the ball in the opening game against Korea while Hippolite scored from deep in the second half against Japan.
The pair looked comfortable on the big stage and look destined to play more games in the black singlet.
- Krystal and Charlisse Leger-Walker shine.
Due to a combination of injury and American university commitments Krystal hadn’t played for the national team since 2016.
Since then, she has tucked away five years of collegiate experience at Northern Colorado University and more lately at Washington State University. The point guard led the Tall Ferns assists count in Jordan averaging four dimes per game and only gave up 1.4 turnovers per outing.
With 2021-22 being her last season in the States we can expect Krystal to be a regular in the Tall Ferns line-up in the coming years. She looks likely to be one of Coach Molloy’s first picks for the foreseeable future.
Having only just turned 20 years of age, Charlisse heads back to Washington State University for her sophomore season with an ever growing reputation and resume. New Zealand’s youngest player at the Asia Cup finished as the team’s second highest scorer (11.0ppg) and second highest assists maker (3 per game).
- Mary Goulding was the Tall Ferns ‘Energizer Bunny’ in Amman.
Goulding first played for the Tall Ferns at the 2019 William Jones Cup but played a far bigger role this time around.
Since her international debut, Goulding has played for IK Eos in the Swedish League and for Bendigo Spirit in the 2020 Australian WNBL season. Most recently, she was named to the 2021 NBL1 West Conference All First Team after averaging 23.8 points and 13.5 rebounds playing for the East Perth Eagles.
The guard was a spark off the bench, except the last game where she started for Coach Molloy, and displayed her growing confidence by averaging 8.6 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.
She was the team’s most efficient shooter making 65% (17/26) from the field, 40% (4/10) from three-point range and 100% (5/5) from the free-throw line.
- Three-point shooting is a work on for the Tall Ferns
New Zealand ranked seventh out of the eight teams in shooting percentage from beyond the arc, nailing only 35/125 over the five games in Jordan. The top four teams averaged 36% or better.
- Milestones and Statistics
Penina Davidson’s 26-point haul against Chinese-Taipei usurps Jillian Harmon’s 23 points (in 2017 against DPR of Korea) as the highest single-game points tally for New Zealand at the Asia Cup.
New Zealand’s all-time leaders at the Asia Cup:
Kalani Purcell and Chev Paalvast are the only players to have appeared in all 16 games that New Zealand have played at the Asia Cup (2017, 2019 and 2021).
Leading Points Scorers:
- 122 Micaela Cocks
- 120 Kalani Purcell
- 99 Penina Davidson
- 84 Jillian Harmon
- 73 Tessa Boagni
- 70 Chevannah Paalvast
- 128 Kalani Purcell
- 60 Penina Davidson
- 56 Jillian Harmon
- 52 Toni Farnworth
- 44 Tessa Boagni
- Assist Leaders:
- 38 Kalani Purcell
- 32 Chev Paalvast
- 29 Micaela Cocks
- 22 Charlisse Leger-Walker
- 20 Krystal Leger-Walker
- Japan are a women’s international basketball powerhouse
Despite resting some key players Japan were able to complete a memorable calendar year by beating China 78-73 to claim the Asia Cup title.
This success comes on the back of a silver medal finish at the Tokyo Olympics when they wowed the audiences with their brand of basketball.
Amazingly it was a fifth straight Asia Cup title for Japan.
- The Tessa and Noah show.
Tessa Boagni and son Noah were the headline act at the pre-tournament photo shoot with young Noah’s presence a constant theme of positive reference from the FIBA commentary team of Despina Barton and Siobhan Prior.
“Just because you become a mum shows that you don’t have to give up your sporting or basketball dreams,” said Boagni.
- Team Manager role expanded
On a lighter note, the Tall Ferns Manager job description has been amended to include childcare duties!
Melinda Hodgson could be seen pacing the sideline during games with Boagni’s son, Noah, in a front pack.
Where to from here for the Tall Ferns?
With nothing concrete on the international calendar and all the uncertainties the Covid pandemic creates that’s a topic for another day.
For now, we wish the players and staff safe travels and thank them for their commitment as they now embark on international flights before their two weeks in mandatory quarantine.