Game Recap: Tall Blacks vs Egypt, FIBA World Cup 2023

The Tall Blacks have ended their FIBA World Cup campaign on a high, besting Egypt 88-86 in their second classification game, in a game that went down to the wire.

New Zealand was spearheaded by strong bench efforts from Izayah Le’afa (27 points and 4 steals) and Isaac Fotu (14 points), while Game MVP Finn Delany scored 27 points on 8-12 shooting. Captain Reuben Te Rangi added 9 points & 5 rebounds – including a pair of clutch free throws with 17 seconds remaining – and Yanni Wetzell finished with 6 points and 7 rebounds.

Egypt saw Ehab Amin with 19 points and 9 assists, while Amr El Gendy scored 11 of his 19 points during an Egyptian third-quarter surge. Centre Anas Mahmoud chipped in with 16 points and 9 rebounds, with Assem Marei adding 11 points and 6 rebounds.

New Zealand started the game slowly, hitting 1-7 from the field in the first four minutes which allowed Egypt to go up 9-4. Five straight points from Fotu helped to balance the score; Isaac and Le’afa combining for 22 points in the Kiwi’s first quarter.

Down three to start the second period, New Zealand came out with fresh energy and focus; embarking on a 13-0 run while holding the Egyptians without a bucket for the first four minutes to build a 33-25 lead. Outscoring Egypt 25-10 in the quarter, the duo of Le’afa and Delany combined for 31 points on 9/11 shooting, building a 47-35 lead at the half – despite an off night from Te Rangi and Ili (0-8 from the field between them). As a team the Kiwis shot 45% in the half, but an uncharacteristic 3/11 (27%) from outside the arc.

With Ili benched for the second half due to injury, Egypt surged back in the third, with El Gendy leading a 13-2 run that bought the Egyptians to within three points with four minutes left. Delany answered the call for New Zealand, scoring seven straight to help build a seven point buffer heading into the final frame, with Le’afa adding a quick 6 points and a pair of timely steals.

Te Rangi came alive in the fourth, scoring five straight to briefly push the Tall Black’s lead back up to 12. But it would be short-lived, as another strong push from the Egyptians gave them an unlikely one point lead with two and a half minutes left. A huge corner triple from Jordan Ngatai helped to keep things even late, and Te Rangi iced it for the Kiwis at the line; making a pair of huge free throws under pressure. The win saw some statistical improvements for New Zealand with the Tall Blacks limiting their turnovers to 12, the lowest number in their five World Cup games. While their 20 assists from 26 made field goals demonstrated a willingness to pass the ball, the Kiwis were outshot 46% to 41% on the night, shooting just 7-25 from beyond the arc.

Following the game, Delany said that the win saw key players step up at the right time and make big plays – singling out Le’afa for his efforts on both sides of the ball.

“It’s a collective effort, we’ve got different guys step up during the week and make shots, Izayah is extremely talented and I’m happy for him and the other guys like Reuben who have stepped up,” says Delany.

“It was nice to hit some shots with him today, I just wanted everyone to stay aggressive the whole game, the whole tournament , so it was nice.”

Coach Pero Cameron reflected back the lessons learnt from the Mexico game and the Tall Black’s need to come out with energy against Egypt.

“A great finish and a positive for us and a real tough game. Coming into this tournament we knew there were no easy games and we set our sights high and had high expectations,” says Cameron.

“You can see when we get close and don’t achieve want we want, it affects us and ultimately it was the next turnaround game [vs Mexico] that hurt us – so we made it a point that we wouldn’t be low on energy again today. Hats off to my players for putting in that effort when the game came down to the wire.”

Delany looked back on a rollercoaster of a World Cup tournament and the lessons he and his teammates have learnt from it.

“It was a positive end to a tough world cup against a strong Egyptian side [tonight], but overall it wasn’t the results during the week that we wanted.

“The Tall Blacks and New Zealand we always compete with the superpower [countries] around the world, we say that a lot and we did that this week – my mission and our mission was to push that further and not accept just competing with the heavyweights, we wanted to come in and win and get to the second round. We fell short of that, but we learned a lot and we kept pushing.

“With Covid, everything over the past four years has felt like a very different group to my last World Cup and this is a great thing for the future – I believe a lot of guys here that weren’t around even a few years ago, they’re taking these experiences and growing relationships with other guys on and off the court, which is huge.

“I reinforce that message that we can compete against great teams, and just having our guys have experiences against the Greeces and the Team USAs and the world, it’s huge. There’s a lot of things we can learn and grow from.”

This is the end of New Zealand’s participation in this FIBA World Cup. Finishing this FIBA World Cup with a 2-3 record, New Zealand now awaits to find out whether it has done enough to be awarded a place at the Olympic Qualifier Series in June next year.

A massive thank you to everyone who has backed, supported and encouraged this squad throughout its World Cup journey.



New Zealand 88 – Le’afa 27 PTS & 6 REB & 4 STL | Delany 27 PTS | Fotu 14 PTS | Wetzell 6 PTS & 7 REB | Le’afa 5 PTS & 6 AST | Te Rangi 9 PTS & 5 REB | Ngatai 3 PTS | Ili 2 PTS & 5 AST

Egypt 86 – Amin 19 PTS & 9 AST | El Gendy 19 PTS | Mahmoud 16 PTS & 9 REB | Marei 11 PTS & 6 REB | Gardner 7 PTS & 5 REB

Quarter scores: 22-25, 47-35, 68-61, 88-86

Box score:


Tall Blacks 1st Round Schedule – FIBA Men’s Basketball World Cup

New Zealand vs USA – Sunday 27 August, 12.40am NZT (lost 72-99)

New Zealand vs Jordan – Monday 28 August, 8.45pm NZT (won 95-87)

New Zealand vs Greece – Thursday 31 August, 12.40am NZT (lost 74-83)

New Zealand vs Mexico (Classification game) – Thursday 31 August, 8.45pm NZT (lost 100-108)

New Zealand vs Egypt (Classification game) – Saturday 2 September, 8.45pm NZT (won 88-86)