The Tall Ferns opened its first ever FIBA Asia Cup campaign with a 77-48 defeat at the hands of eleven times Asia Cup champions China in Bangalore early on Monday morning (NZ time).
China’s success was built on a dominating defensive display highlighted by a 39-21 rebounding advantage. In addition they converted an efficient 8 from 18 three-point attempts (44%) compared with New Zealand’s solitary 1 from 9 from beyond the arc.
China scored on their first three possessions before Kalani Purcell opened the Tall Ferns account. Unfortunately Purcell picked up two quick fouls and was forced to the bench after just four minutes.
New Zealand did a fine job defensively in the opening quarter forcing 8 turnovers but struggled at the offensive end and trailed 17-10 at quarter time.
Micaela Cocks and Toni Edmondson scored early in the second to reduce the China lead to 5 points. Harmon scored consecutive baskets but three triples in four possessions from China stretched their lead to 30-18 forcing New Zealand coach Kennedy Kereama to call a timeout.
Harmon, with 8 points in the half on 4 from 8 shooting, was the main offensive threat for the Kiwis, but at the interval they trailed 39-24.
Harmon (14 points on the night) scored a couple of jump shots either side of a Paalvast drive but midway through the third period New Zealand were in a hole trailing 50-30.
Rebecca Ott connected with a jump shot and a strangely subdued Purcell scored with an athletic drive, but China maintained its twenty points buffer at the three-quarter mark, ahead 60-40.
Back to back threes from the Chinese opened the fourth quarter scoring to extinguish any thoughts of a Tall Ferns comeback. Cocks and Josie Stockill made baskets but with the Chinese lead growing Kereama opted to rest his starters ahead of crucial games over the next two days.
Georgia Agnew displayed some nice touches in the closing stages but the defeat left the Tall Ferns with plenty to contemplate ahead of their second outing against DPR of Korea later today (tip-off 7.45pm NZ time).
In the other Group A tie Chinese Taipei eventually overcame a resilient DPR of Korea 77-76.
In Group B Australia were too good for Korea winning 78-54 and defending champions Japan overpowered the Philippines 106-55.
Tall Ferns 48 – Harmon 14, Cocks 9, Edmondson 8, Paalvast 5, Purcell 4, Ott 2, Agnew 2, Stockill 2, Taylor 2
China 77 – Li 15, Zhao 14, Shen 14