The Tall Ferns went down 75-59 to Japan in the Four Nations Tournament played in Minsk on Saturday. It was a much improved performance from the 31 points defeat suffered at the hands of Turkey the day before.
The Kiwis made a promising start against the reigning Asian champions jumping out to a 13-5 lead before being hauled in to trail 20-17 at the quarter time break.
Japan opened the second period with a triple (7 from 21 on the night) but led by Toni Edmondson, with a team high 17 points (8/12FG), the Kiwis were right in the contest at half-time trailing 55-48.
Both teams scored 16 points in the third quarter and with the Tall Ferns dominating the rebounding count 50-29 an upset against a team with an Olympic berth already secured looked on the cards.
It wasn’t to be as Japan took the fourth 20-11 to secure the win. The shooting statistics told much of the story with the sharp shooting Japanese converting 28 from 58 from the field at 48% compared with the Ferns 22 from 71 at a mere 31%.
Tall Ferns coach Kennedy Kereama remains optimistic despite the loss, “It was a tough game but there were better signs today and some major improvements made. We secured 24 offensive rebounds and we were more aggressive and assertive in our offensive sets.
“Defensively we were good in patches but didn’t meet our objectives in the containment of the smaller guards. We also didn’t have a great shooting game and we need to continue to find ways to keep the scoreboard ticking over.”
Penina Davidson won the New Zealand Player of the Tournament Award for her consistent scoring and rebounding efforts. She had six boards on the day as did Kalani Purcell and they were ably supported by Jillian Harmon who threatened a double double with 9 points and 10 rebounds. Captain Edmondson had 8 rebounds to go with her 17 points and she will now lead her team into two encounters with world number three ranked Spain before the Olympic Qualifying Tournament begins in France in eight days time.
Tall Ferns 59 – Edmondson 17p/8r, Davidson 12p/6r, Harmon 9p/10r, Cocks 6p/8r/4a, Stockill 5p/5r, Purcell 5p/6r, Rooney 3, Beck 2