This though was a performance where minutes were spread (no one played more than 20) and the focus was already on games against Ukraine and Finland, knowing that regardless of the result in this one the Tall Blacks will have to win those two games.
Kirk Penney has played the Americans before and knew what a challenge it would be for many of the young players in the Tall Blacks.
“For us this was going to be a big challenge, they came at us early and it was a wonderful challenge for everyone to play but we wanted to fight to the end and I think the guys did and played until the last minute, that is all we can ask of the team. The true challenge for us to stay in this tournament as it stands right now starts tomorrow.
“At home in New Zealand we don’t watch Europe, we watch the NBA on TV at home, that is just how it is. They were thrilled to play and be on the same court but I don’t think anyone backed down, every step of the way everyone worked hard and tried to make our system work and defend that is all we can ask until the last minute, when you play a team like that it can snowball at any point in time and become unstoppable. It would be nice to have competed even more but right now we have to move on to our next two games.”
With the score at 57-35 the threat of a USA romp after halftime was present, but the stars won the last two quarters by a narrow 41-36 margin, leaving the young New Zealanders with a degree of confidence to take into tonight’s game against Ukraine.
BJ Anthony brought plenty of energy in his 11 point contribution and was supported by an even effort throughout the roster.
USA 98 (Anthony Davis 21, Kenneth Faried 15, James Harden 13, Steph Curry 12, Klay Thompson 12, Kyrie Irving 10)
Tall Blacks 71 (BJ Anthony 11). 1Q: 27-20, HT: 57-35, 3Q: 75-54