The U17 Men’s National Team began its FIBA Asia Cup campaign with a convincing 92-67 victory against Kazakhstan in Doha, Qatar on Sunday night in the opening game of the tournament.
Forwards Nic Book and Julius Halaifonua troubled Kazakhstan all game with both their scoring and rebounding capabilities. Harbour representative Halaifonua completed a double-double of 22 points and 10 rebounds, five of the rebounds at the offensive end.
Meanwhile Canterbury representative Book strung together the impressive stat line of 25 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks in a typically energetic display.
Book had the distinction of scoring the opening points of the competition, New Zealand taking the opening quarter 19-18.
Those opening ten minutes highlighted the difference in playing styles of the two teams.
Kazakhstan put up 13 threes in the first ten minutes (making 3). In comparison the Kiwis made just 1 from 6 attempts from deep, preferring to take the ball inside where they scored 12 points in the paint – 8 of those from Halaifonua.
Halaifonua scored the first seven NZ points in the second frame, one a two handed dunk.
The Kiwis transition game was troubling the Kazaks, Dante Matakatea stretching the lead to eight (34-26) before the Trego brothers Hunter and Phoenix scored in quick succession to push the advantage out to 43-30 six minutes into the spell.
Book joined Halaifonua in double figures as New Zealand carried a 49-34 lead into the locker room at half-time.
Book added a dozen to his tally and George Grant knocked down a corner three to open his international account as New Zealand improved their advantage to 69-50 at the three-quarter mark.
Kaia Berridge and William Passi made transition baskets, Brody Perry knocked down a three and Kalid Petzer but down a dunk as the Kiwis comfortably navigated their way through the fourth quarter to ease to a first up win.
Next up for the Kiwis is a Tuesday night (10.30pm NZT) meeting with Korea. With a FIBA World Ranking of #30 compared with New Zealand’s #27 the Koreans, medallists in three of the five U16 Asia Championships played to date, will present a formidable challenge for Coach Darron Larsen and his charges.
New Zealand 92 – Book 25pts, 9 rebs & 3 Blocks | Halaifonua 22pts & 10rebs | Perry 9pts | Matakatea 8pts | Petzer 7pts | Berridge 5pts | Passi 4pts | Grant 3pts | Turner 3pts | P Trego 3pts | H Trego 3pts
Kazakhstan 67 – D Severgin 28 | T Maskot 11 |A Marat 11
New Zealand Schedule/Results:
Sunday June 12 beat Kazakhstan 92-67
Tuesday June 14 (10.30pm NZT) v Korea
*Dates and times of play-off games will be dependent on the results of the two Pool games.
The 13-team Tournament, postponed from 2021 due to Covid, doubles as a Qualifying Tournament for the U17 Men’s FIBA World Cup to be played in Spain in July – the top four teams in Doha will qualify for the Word Cup.
U17 Men’s National Team
Kaia Berridge – Tauranga City Basketball
Nic Book – Canterbury Basketball
George Grant – Basketball Otago
Julius Halaifonua – Harbour Basketball
Dante Matakatea – Basketball Auckland
William Passi – Counties-Manukau Basketball
Kalid Petzer – Basketball Auckland
Brody Perry – Franklin Basketball
Will Shortt – Basketball Auckland
Hunter Trego – New Zealand
Phoenix Trego – New Zealand
George Turner – Counties-Manukau Basketball
Head Coach – Darron Larsen
Assistant Coach – Chris Tupu
Assistant Coach – Jack Williamson
Team Manager – Scott Richardson
The U16 Asia Cup fixture schedule can be found here. Live streaming will also be available on this link: