The U16 New Zealand Women’s team have beaten Chinese Taipei 66-63 in a thrilling encounter, claiming bronze at the FIBA U16 Women’s Asian Championship in Jordan on Sunday.
Bailey Flavell had a solid game with 16 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists; the North Harbour guard huge down the stretch while scoring nine points in the pivotal fourth quarter. Pahlyss Hokianga had a 10 point, 9 rebound and 6 assist stat-line, while Jennifer Mailei added 10 points and 5 rebounds; Waikimihia Douglas-Karauna tallying 8 points and 8 rebounds.
All appeared to be going to plan when New Zealand led 39-24 at half time, after holding Taipei to just 6 points in the second quarter. However, it was the Kiwis turn to go cold on offence in the third as they managed just 7 points with their lead narrowing to 46-38.
That lead would evaporate completely in the fourth, as Taipei put together a 16-6 run to lead 54-52 with four minutes to play. Graecyn Parahi tied proceedings at the 3:38 mark only for Taipei to edge ahead with 2:51 on the clock.
In a hectic spell Flavell levelled, Taipei made a three, Pahlyss Hokianga converted a lay-up then Flavell and Keriana-Marie Hippolite did likewise – New Zealand 62-59 ahead with 58 seconds to play.
Flavell gave New Zealand a 4 point advantage but Taipei hit back with a triple with just 10 seconds to play to keep the Kiwi supporters on edge. Rica Enriquez-Paea, with nerves of steel, calmly sank two free throws after a Taipei foul. Taipei needing a three to tie the game, but with only 7 seconds remaining, they came up short and New Zealand players and staff could celebrate.
Not only do New Zealand come away from the Asia Champs with a medal but they also, with a top four finish, have booked themselves a place at the 2024 FIBA U17 Women’s World Cup in Mexico.
New Zealand head coach Mel Bennett was naturally delighted with her team’s performance.
“I’m extremely proud of the girls. Our goal was a top four finish to punch our ticket to Mexico, so to medal is a real bonus,” says Bennett.
“It was really a game of two halves; massive respect to Chinese Taipei as their zone certainly suffocated us and took us out of our normal flowing rhythm. The first half was a dream with mismatches but in the third quarter we fell asleep – in the fourth quarter we played small ball and added full court pressure to close out the game.”
Following on from the Tall Ferns success at the recent Asia Cup, the achievements of Coach Bennett, and her staff and players, have once again helped put New Zealand Women’s basketball on the map.
New Zealand 66 – Flavell 16 PTS & 12 REB & 5 AST | Hokianga 10 PTS 9 REB & 6 AST | Mailei 10 PTS | Douglas-Karauna 8 PTS & 8 REB | Hickey 5 PTS | Parahi 5 PTS | Enriquez-Paea 5 PTS | Hippolite 4 PTS | Nelson 3 PTS
Chinese Taipei 63 – Hsu 15 PTS | Peng 15 PTS
Box Score: http://bbnz.link/v3395
Quarter scores: 18-16, 39-24, 46-38, 66-63
FIBA U16 Women’s Asian Championships – NZ Results
11 July – NZL vs Japan (Lost 44-75)
12 July – Samoa vs NZL (Won 80-51)
14 July – NZL vs China (Won 95-73)
15 July – Semi-Final: NZL vs Australia (Lost 62-99)
16 July – 3rd/4th play-off vs Chinese Taipei (Won 66-63)
FIBA U16 Women’s Asian Championship Squad – NZ
Waikimihia Douglas-Karauna, Rotorua Basketball Association
Rica-Chanel Enriquez-Paea, NZ
Bailey Flavell, Harbour Basketball
Sophia Hickey, NZ
Keriana Hippolite, NZ
Pahlyss Hokianga, Basketball Hawkes Bay
Jennifer Mailei, NZ
Anaiya Nelson, Waikato Basketball
Graecyn Parahi, Basketball Hawkes Bay
Hana Paterson, Waikato Basketball
Emma Rogers, Tauranga City Basketball
Cassidy Thomson, NZ