The Aon Under 17 Men and Women have had to settle for silver medals at the FIBA Under 17 Oceania Championship in New Caledonia on Saturday.
Australia claimed both gold medals after the New Zealand Women were defeated 88-41 and the Kiwi Men lost 85-56.
Despite the defeats, New Zealand has achieved its main objective of claiming a place at the FIBA Under 18 Asian Championship in 2020 where they will be the Oceania representatives alongside Australia.
New Zealand Men found themselves eleven points down before Sean Murphy opened their account and trailing 16-2 coach Aaron Fearne needed a timeout.
The Auckland pair of Connor Ngan and Alex McNaught both scored from beyond the arc on the resumption and Cantabrian Mac Stodard scored with a spinning drive but the Kiwis still trailed 22-11 at the first break.
A Stodard three was the first score of the second quarter and when Harry Payne scored in transition it was Australia’s turn to call a timeout with their lead trimmed to 24-16.
The Payne and Stodard double punch scored again, Reihana Maxwell-Topia showed deft touch on his floater and when Ezra Vaigafa converted a couple of free-throws the Aussie lead was back to two (29-27).
Unfortunately, Australia had much the better of the back end of the quarter enjoying a 16-1 run to lead 45-28 at half-time.
Australia took the game away from New Zealand in the third period putting together a dominant 20-2 phase during which the Kiwis could get nothing to drop at the offensive end.
Stodard, on his way to a team-high 15 points, eventually got a three to drop, Ngan made points, as did Finn Lally but the Aussie lead was a commanding 67-39 at three-quarter time.
To their credit, the Kiwis didn’t allow their heads to drop going basket for basket with Australia in the last quarter but it was a night when they were second best to a superior opponent.
Final Score: New Zealand 56 Australia 85
New Zealand 56 – M Stodard 15, H Payne 12, C Ngan 7, R Coman 7
Australia 85 – J Giddey 25, T Wigness 12, B Bayles 12
Earlier in the Women’s contest, a tentative performance saw New Zealand comfortably beaten 88-41 by an accomplished Australian outfit.
After a horror start in which the Kiwis fell behind 15-3 the New Zealand front court adopted a far more aggressive approach at the back end of the first quarter with Paris Mason, Sophie Adams and Rochelle Fourie all earning trips to the foul line.
When Caitlin O’Connell knocked down a three the Australian lead had been trimmed to just six points at quarter-time (22-16).
Despite baskets from Arielle Williams and Emilee Tahata in the early stages of the second it was a period dominated by Australia as they outscored the Kiwis 24-8 to lead 46-24 at the interval leaving the Kiwis with plenty to contemplate at the interval.
New Zealand started the second half in fine fashion as Ashlee Strawbridge and Arielle Williams, the Kiwis leading scorer at the tournament, connected from beyond the arc and Emilee Tahata scored a brace of buckets.
However, a series of turnovers stymied their progress as Australia put together a massive 19-0 run to stretch out to a 61-34 lead.
Olivia Williams broke the Kiwis scoring drought but Australia were 72-36 ahead with ten minutes to play.
New Zealand’s struggles at the offensive end continued in the fourth on a night when they shot just 25% from the floor (14 from 57).
Robbie Coman and Arielle Williams were elected to their respective tournament teams and the conclusion of the championship. Coman averaged 12.4 points, six rebounds and one assist through five games, while Williams notched the exact same number of points, four rebounds and two assists in her five outings.
Final Score: New Zealand 41 Australia 88
Australia 88 – J Melbourne 21, G Potter 15
New Zealand 41 – E Tahata 8, A Williams 7, A Strawbridge 5/5rebs, P Mason 5
The top-two finishers at the FIBA Under 17 Oceania Championship advance to the FIBA Under 18 Asian Championship in 2020, which is the official qualifier to the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup.
Results and box scores for previous fixtures can be found here.