The New Zealand U16 Men’s team will face Australia in the finals of the FIBA U16 Asian Champs tomorrow morning, following their 86-69 win over China overnight.
The Kiwis controlled the game from the opening tip; shooting 50% from the field while holding China to just 33% – including a 6/31 (19%) effort from beyond the arc. They also contained Boyuan Zhang, the tournaments third-leading scorer, to just 8 points on 3/13 shooting. And despite China boasting three players 6’10” and over, the Kiwis also won the rebounding battle 52-40 – thanks to Oscar Goodman and the Nelson duo of James Matthews and Hayden Jones.
After building a 46-29 lead at the half, New Zealand hung tough in the remaining two quarters to earn their fifth win in five games. Lachlan Crate was the hero on the night, setting the tone early by scoring 10 of his 23 points in the first period. Goodman added 14 points & 8 rebounds, with Matthews and Hunter Te Ratana adding 12 apiece. Jameer Reed tallied 7 & 7 and Jones had 6 points & 9 rebounds.
For China, 7’0” centre Sinan Huan led with 11 points, 7 rebounds and a pair of blocks, while Wenwei He and Wenhao Fu added 10 each. China struggled to score early, going just 4-17 in the opening period and unable to utilise their superior size in the paint. They also had issues defending New Zealand in the open court at times, allowing to Kiwis to earn a 25-9 fast break advantage.
The Kiwis now turn their attention to Australia, who – like New Zealand – have gone 5-0 in this competition to earn a place in the final. The numbers stack up fair evenly for both teams; Australia averaging 65% shooting compared to 60% for the Kiwis, while New Zealand holds the advantage in fast break points (an average of 34.2 compared to 32.8). The Crocs also hold a slight 60-58 rebounding per game advantage.
This will be the first time that New Zealand and Australia have faced each other at the FIBA U16 Asian Champs since 2015; the Kiwis winning the first game 81-62 but the Crocs earning a 91-85 victory – and the gold medal – in the second. Those games saw future senior national team players in Sam Waardenburg, Dan Fotu, Taane Samuels and Brayden Inger suit up for New Zealand, while Australia was led by big man Sam Froling.
Catch New Zealand battle Australia for Gold in the FIBA U16 Asian Champs finals – 5.30am NZT, Monday 25 September, watch live at www.youtube.com/fiba
New Zealand 86 – Crate 23 PTS & 4 STL | Goodman 14 PTS & 8 REB | | Te Ratana 12 PTS | Matthews 12 PTS & 8 REB | Martin 12 PTS | Reed 7 PTS & 7 REB | Jones 6 PTS & 9 REB | Plumtree 4 PTS & 6 REB | Ball 3 PTS | Rillstone 3 PTS | Dallow 2PTS
Qatar 69 – Huan 11 PTS & 7 REB | He 10 PTS | Fu 10 PTS
Box Score: http://bbnz.link/U16MensNZLvsCHN
Quarter scores: 24-15, 46-29, 68-50, 86-69
FIBA U16 Men’s Asian Championships – NZ Results
17 Sep – NZL vs Korea (WON 83-81)
18 Sep – NZL vs Jordan (WON 119-45)
19 Sep – NZL vs Bahrain (WON 117-43)
22 Sep – NZL vs Qatar, Quarterfinal round (WON 110-33)
23 Sep – NZL vs China, Semifinal round (WON 86-69)
U16 Men’s Squad, FIBA U16 Asian Championship
Jackson Ball, Basketball Hawkes Bay
Ihaka Cate, Canterbury Basketball
Lachlan Crate, Basketball Manawatu
Gus Dallow, Harbour Basketball Association
Oscar Goodman, Basketball Taranaki
Hayden Jones, Nelson Basketball Association
Mana Martin, Canterbury Basketball
James Matthews, Nelson Basketball Association
Troy Plumtree, Wellington Basketball Association
Jameer Reed, Harbour Basketball Association
Merrick Rillstone, Waikato Basketball
Hunter Te Ratana, Counties Manukau