The Tall Ferns ended the Four Nations Tournament in Xilinhot, China, on a disappointing note going down 56-53 to the Czech Republic on Saturday night.
Having beaten the Czech’s earlier in the week the Kiwis were optimistic they could finish their six game schedule with a win and claim second place in the tournament.
The signs were good in the early stages as the Tall Ferns opened up a 20-14 first quarter lead. With Penina Davidson and Kalani Purcell snaring nine rebounds each and helping the team to a 40-33 advantage on the boards they were still in the ascendancy 28-21 at half-time.
The Czech’s began to work their way back into the game in the second half and edged ahead 42-41 at the end of the third period.
The Tall Ferns had shooting problems throughout converting just 18 from 54 (33%) two point attempts and 2 from 7 (29%) three point efforts. This lack of scoring punch was highlighted in the final quarter as the Ferns managed only 12 points to lose a low scoring encounter by just three points.
Toni Edmondson (10 points) led the Ferns scoring effort for the fourth game out of six but she was the only player in double figures. Micaela Cocks and Davidson scored 8 points each but Purcell had a night to forget at the offensive end scoring just once from thirteen attempts.
Assistant coach Aik Ho was pleased with the rebounding effort and also felt the team had partially addressed the turnover count – down to 14 from 21 in the previous game.
Ho also felt that with the team having to play six games in eight days after a limited build up fatigue became a factor in the second half.
“However we have made some very positive steps in our limited time together and we are looking forward to the next stage of the tour.”
The Tall Ferns now head to Latvia for games against the host country on Friday May 27 and Saturday May 28.
Guard Brooke Blair and forward Katelin Noyer who both made their international debuts in China will now return to New Zealand. Their places in the 14 player squad have been taken by Josie Stockill and Jillian Harmon. Stockill has just completed her commitments at Colgate University in the States and Harmon is coming off a successful season in the Italian League with the Le Mura Lucca club.
Czech Republic 56
Tall Ferns 53 – Edmondson 10, Davidson 8, Cocks 8, Paalvast 7, Franklin 6, Beck 5, Hunter 3, Purcell 2, Wallbutton 2, Bygate 2