Game two of the Four Nations Tournament played in Minsk on Friday was one to forget for the Tall Ferns as they were humbled 70-39 by Turkey.
The Tall Ferns began the game really slowly and even with Kalani Purcell reinstated to the starting lineup, after being rested the previous day against Belarus, made little impression against an energetic Turkish outfit that raced to a 16-6 quarter time lead.
Like the Tall Ferns Turkey are heading to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in France later in the month and they made a statement of intent in the second period reeling off an 11-0 run to open up a massive 33-16 half-time advantage.
None of the Ferns could get there offensive game going with the normally dependable guard pairing of Micaela Cocks and Toni Edmondson shooting a collective 1 from 11 highlighting the Kiwis problem.
The Turks built themselves an unassailable 57-24 three-quarter time lead, dominating the third period 24-8, to snuff out any thoughts of a Tall Ferns second half comeback.
Tall Ferns assistant coach Aik Ho described the defeat as a thrashing. “The players were flat perhaps with the worry of the final selection for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament hanging over them,” he said.
The 12 players selected from the current group of 14 will be named this weekend.
Ho added, “Turkey were focused and came out hard defensively and established a good lead. They defended our starters really well and we just couldn’t get going.”
One bright note was the continued comeback after injury of Erin Rooney. The French based guard played 15 minutes and led the Kiwi scoring effort with 8 points connecting with 2 from 4 from behind the three-point arc. Her efforts helped the Tall Ferns win the final quarter 15-13 but it was little consolation and the team needs to regroup quickly ahead of a third game in three days.
That game isn’t any easier as on Saturday they face the reigning Asian champions Japan. The Japanese have already qualified for the Olympics and boast the same squad that beat New Zealand 3-0 in the series in Canterbury last year.
Tall Ferns 39 – Rooney 8, Harmon 7, Paalvast 7, Purcell 5, Davidson 4, Cocks 3, Franklin 3, Wallbutton 2