Following a much-needed rest day, the Tall Ferns return to FIBA Women’s Asia Cup action today for their Qualification Final game against Asia Cup newcomers Philippines.
By finishing second in Group A behind China, New Zealand earned the right to play the third-placed team in Group B in this Qualification Final game – with the winner heading to the semi-finals to meet defending champs Japan.
Their opponent would be the winner of Wednesday’s game between Chinese Taipei and Philippines, with both squads 0-2 at that point. The Philippines were impressive in their 92-81 victory, thanks to Jack Animam recording a 16 points, 15 rebound double-double while shooting 8-8 from the field. Teammate Afril Bernardino added 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Duke’s Vanessa De Jesus poured in a game-high 25 points.
Facing up against this Philippines trio, the Tall Ferns bring in some serious firepower of their own. Penina Davidson has been one of the top players at this Asia Cup, averaging 18.5ppg (2nd best in the comp) while also leading the tournament with 11.5rpg and an incredible 73% field goal percentage – 14% above the next highest player. Davidson is also fourth in blocks with 1.5 per game.
Alongside Davidson has been the impressive guard play of Charlisse Leger-Walker (14.7ppg, six-best in comp) and Tahlia Tupaea (11ppg) with the latter shooting at a 55% clip on her triples – including a 6/9 performance from outside in the win over Lebanon. Tera Reed has also been solid with her 7ppg ang 6.7rpg, while captain Stella Beck brings both a strong defensive mindset to the Kiwis and averages a team-leading 3.3 assists per game.
The bench unit has also been a strong calling card for New Zealand in this Asia Cup, thanks to the play of Esra McGoldrick and her 7.5ppg and 4.5rpg – shooting 57.1 on her triples, good for fifth-best in the comp. Tayla Dalton (5.3ppg) has been a sparkplug off the bench, while Grace Hunter (5ppg, 60% from three) and Krystal Leger-Walker (4ppg and 4rpg) have also been productive.
Beck says they won’t be taking this Philippines team – playing in their first FIBA Women’s Asia Cup Division A after being promoted from Division B – lightly.
“The Philippines have had a really strong campaign, they beat Chinese Taipei which is a huge win for them. They’re going to have momentum, they’ve got a really different team compared to who we’ve competed against in the past, so we’re certainly not taking them lightly,” says Beck.
“Their hustle was there, their motivation was there and some of their players were bought to tears by the win. So it obviously means a lot to them – as it does to us – and we totally respect that they won’t let us off easy. We’re definitely coming into this with a ‘high alert’ mindset and that it could go either way.”
The Tall Ferns play the Philippines from 7pm NZT on Friday 30 June, in their Qualification Finals game in the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup 2023. Watch this game live – and free – on Spark Sport, or follow the game here.
FIBA Women’s Asia Cup 2023 – Tall Ferns Schedule:
Mon 26 June – Tall Ferns vs Korea, 1pm NZT (won 66-64)
Tue 27 June – Tall Ferns vs China, 7pm NZT (lost 46-80)
Wed 28 June – Tall Ferns vs Lebanon, 1pm NZT (won 76-45)
Friday 30 June – Tall Ferns vs Philippines, 7pm NZT
Tall Ferns Squad – FIBA Women’s Asia Cup 2023:
Stella Beck, 59 caps
Tayla Dalton, 8 caps
Penina Davidson, 59 caps
Grace Hunter, 7 caps
Charlisse Leger-Walker, 39 caps
Krystal Leger-Walker, 26 caps
Parris Mason, 2 caps
Esra McGoldrick, 9 caps
Tera Reed, 14 caps
Ritorya Tamilo, 6 caps
Josie Trousdell, 38 caps
Tahlia Tupaea, 2 caps