From the Vault: BBNZ Classic Matches | #10

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With our tournaments and leagues on a temporary hiatus, we’ve gone through the archives to bring you some classic games from yesteryear to watch!

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BBNZ Classic Match #10: 2014 FIBA World Cup | Tall Blacks vs. USA

It’s not everyday you get to take on the might of the USA in a FIBA World Cup, let alone a US side complete with a star studded NBA-laden roster. The Tall Blacks faced this mammoth task in their third group game at the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain.

This though was a performance where minutes were spread (no one played more than 20) and the focus was already on upcoming games against Ukraine and Finland, knowing that regardless of the result in this one the Tall Blacks will have to win those two games.

Kirk Penney had played the Americans before and knew what a challenge it would be for many of the young players in the Tall Blacks.

“For us this was going to be a big challenge, they came at us early and it was a wonderful challenge for everyone to play but we wanted to fight to the end and I think the guys did and played until the last minute, that is all we can ask of the team. The true challenge for us to stay in this tournament as it stands right now starts tomorrow.

“At home in New Zealand we don’t watch Europe, we watch the NBA on TV at home, that is just how it is. They were thrilled to play and be on the same court but I don’t think anyone backed down, every step of the way everyone worked hard and tried to make our system work and defend that is all we can ask until the last minute, when you play a team like that it can snowball at any point in time and become unstoppable. It would be nice to have competed even more but right now we have to move on to our next two games.”

With the score at 57-35 the threat of a USA romp after halftime was present, but the stars won the last two quarters by a narrow 41-36 margin, leaving the young New Zealanders with a degree of confidence to take into the final two group games.

The Tall Blacks would go on to defeat both Ukraine and Finland (in a thrilling contest). The team bowed out of the tournament in the Round of 16, losing narrowly to Lithuania (76-71). The Lithuanians would go on to finish the tournament in fourth place, falling to the US in the Semi-finals.

USA 98
Tall Blacks 71



Photos: & FIBA