Game Preview: Tall Ferns vs Australia, FIBA Women’s Asia Cup Bronze Medal Game

It’s the Tall Ferns last day – and their last game – in the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup in Sydney, as they face Australia today in a battle for both third place and the bronze medal.

Looking back, New Zealand has met Australia twice before in the Asia Cup; most recently in the 2021 edition with the Kiwis falling 61-72 in a close game that saw sisters Charlisse and Krystal Leger-Walker score 17 and 12 respectively, but unable to overcome a 29-point outing from Sammy Whitcomb. And in 2019 the Tall Ferns suffered a heavy 44-82 loss to the Aussies, with New Zealand held to 25% shooting from the field thanks to swarming Opals defense.

But the New Zealand and Australia teams in this edition of the Asia Cup are quite different. The Tall Ferns are fielding arguably their strongest Asia Cup squad in the past 6 years, as evidenced by their ability to reach the semi-finals for the first time.

Charlisse Leger-Walker continues to excel as a scorer (18.4ppg, second-best in the tournament) and leader on the court, while Penina Davidson (12.3ppf, 9.5rpg and 1.5bpg) remains the team enforcer and inside presence. Tahlia Tupaea (9.8ppg & 1.5spg) has been a revelation for the Kiwis, as has Tera Reed (8.8ppg, 6rpg), while Esra McGoldrick has been a solid presence off the bench with 5ppg and 4.5rpg.

Although Australia have been the second-best scoring team in the comp at 82.6ppg, as well as the best rebounding team, they come into this Asia Cup lacking a standout star; the absence of Whitcomb and other WNBA-based players allowing other players to earn more minutes. No-one on this Opals squad averages over 24 minutes per game, with 32-year-old Alice Kunek their leading scorer at just 10.6ppg. Power forward Lauren Scherf continues to be a strong inside presence for the Opals, with her 9.8ppg and 8.6rpg a big factor in the team’s success.

The Tall Ferns play Australia from 2.30pm NZT on Sunday 2 July, with the winner claiming bronze. Watch this game live – and free – on TVNZ, 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 (won 83-78)

Saturday 1 July – Tall Ferns vs Japan, 7pm NZT (lost 52-88)


Tall Ferns Squad – FIBA Women’s Asia Cup 2023:

Stella Beck, 61 caps

Tayla Dalton, 10 caps

Penina Davidson, 61 caps

Grace Hunter, 8 caps

Charlisse Leger-Walker, 41 caps

Krystal Leger-Walker, 28 caps

Parris Mason, 3 caps

Esra McGoldrick, 11 caps

Tera Reed, 16 caps

Ritorya Tamilo, 8 caps

Josie Trousdell, 40 caps

Tahlia Tupaea, 4 caps