The Tall Ferns had to settle for silver at the William Jones Cup in Taiwan on Sunday after being heavily beaten by Japan going down 95-63. Both teams held a 4-0 record heading into the final day of the tournament but it was Japan that took the honours after a high class display.
Japan were excellent, their speed of pass and movement off the ball constantly gave their accurate shooters space, something the Tall Ferns were unable to replicate as they shot 35% (19/54) from two-point range and a disappointing 22% (6/27) from the three-point arc. In contrast Japan shot 53% (29/43) and an impressive 53% from three-point range knocking down 9 from 17 attempts.
“Japan were fantastic, their shooting was high quality and they punished any defensive error that we made,” reflected Tall Ferns Head Coach Guy Molloy.
‘To compound our problems we shot the ball poorly but due credit to Japan they tore us apart,” he added
Penina Davidson top scored for the Kiwis with 14 points (6/11FG) and also had a game high 9 rebounds. Micaela Cocks scored 13 points, leading the New Zealand scoring in the tournament with 86 points, and Tessa Boagni finished with 10 points.
Stella Beck had a fine all-court game finishing with 8 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists.
The Tall Ferns were rocked by an extraordinary shooting display in the opening period with Japan making 11 of their 13 shots from the floor including 5 from 6 from beyond the three-point arc. The Kiwis left reeling – behind 30-14 after ten minutes.
The situation didn’t improve in the second quarter with world No 10 ranked Japan winning that stanza 21-11 to lead 51-25 at half-time.
Japan continued their dominance in the second half although the Tall Ferns effort couldn’t be faulted. They won the rebounding count 36-29 and had the minor satisfaction of winning the last quarter (21-16) which Molloy gave his team credit for.
“Down by 26 points at the interval the game became more of a test of our character and culture. We found a way to stay in the contest and be competitive. We won the final quarter and that was pleasing.” Molloy said.
Despite the defeat it has been an excellent campaign for the Tall Ferns winning four of five games at the William Jones Cup and introducing six new players to the demands of international basketball.
“The tour has been very worthwhile and whilst we didn’t get the result we were looking for today, overall we have made plenty of steps forward,” said Molloy.
Next up for the Tall Ferns is a trip to India for the FIBA Asia Cup in September.
NZ 63 – P Davidson 14/9r, M Cocks 13, T Boagni 10, S Beck 8/7r/6a, C Leger-Walker 7, K Purcell 5, E Fotu 3, A West 2, M Goulding 1
Japan 86 – Y Ikeya 19, M Kawai 16