Ahead of the William Jones Cup in Taiwan, beginning 24 July, the Tall Ferns are training in Japan. The eight day camp also includes three warm-up games and the first of those was played last night.
The friendly hit-out was played against hosts Japan with the Tall Ferns falling 74-44. Canterbury Wildcats forward Tessa Boagni top scored for the Tall Ferns with 12 points. The other main contributors were Stella Beck (7 points) and Kalani Purcell and Chevannah Paalvast with 6 points apiece.
This was the teams first game together with six players on debut. Despite initial impressions, the score line does not give a true reflection of the game, especially when the team fell behind 21-5 in the first quarter. Guy Molloy’s team rallied from there, showing this is a camp focusing on learning and improvement.
“We drew the second quarter (16-16) and outscored Japan in the third quarter (13-10). We played thirteen players giving them a fairly even spread of minutes. All the debutantes got a good amount of playing time except Amy West who is nursing an injured ankle. They all contributed and worked really hard, and we hope they grow from this experience.”
Of the debutantes Mary Goulding (4 points) and Ella Fotu (2 points) scored their first senior international points whilst Matangiroa Flavell, Esra McGoldrick and Zoe Richards all played significant minutes.
Cantabrian Mary Goulding noticed the step up in standard from college and club basketball “The level of performance is so much higher. You really have to be on the ball all the time as the margin of error is so small. There really is no time to mess up.”
Molloy backed his young team to bounce back from their opening game defeat.
“It’s always a high hurdle to begin a tour against the Japanese national team, but last year’s tour suggests we will make adjustments and improve quickly.”
Those adjustments will begin immediately as the Tall Ferns face Shoin University and a second game against world number 10 ranked Japan on consecutive days.
The Tall Ferns are being hosted by Atsugi Basketball Association.
“The people in Atsugi are just fantastic and we’ve established a great relationship here,” said Molloy.
Ultimately the Tall Ferns are working towards the 2020 Olympics and this is an early step for this young team.
“One of the goals is to really focus on and improve our defense as we head towards the big FIBA qualification events later in the year and also to head to the William Jones Cup very well prepared with the hope of winning a number of games there,” said Molloy.