The NZ U15 Boy’s team are through to the Finals of the FIBA U15 Oceania Championships, following an emphatic 116-70 win over hosts Guam in Semi-final play. The win sets the Kiwis up for a battle with Australia tomorrow, as well as guaranteeing them a spot in next year’s FIBA Asian Champs.
New Zealand employed a balanced attack that saw them shoot 53% from the field, with six players hitting double figures. They out-matched Guam in all facets of the game, from rebounding (69-32), fast break points (32-4), points in the paint (84-32) and assists (32-7) in a dominating offensive display.
Point guard Cooper Lepou led all scores with 23 points on 5-8 shooting from downtown, while Jameer Reed racked up 16 points, 19 rebounds (8 offensive) and 8 assists; Troy Plumtree with 15 & 8, Liam Van Der Heyden with 14 & 6 and Lachlan Crate 13 & 7. Ihaka Cate registered 14 points while Dov Silberstein amassed 6 rebounds and 12 assists.
For Guam, Michael Bork scored 13 points while William Aisek had 12; Noah Hernandez adding 10 and Darnell Camacho with 9 and 5.
The first quarter saw New Zealand race off to an 14-3 start, fuelled with a pair of triples from Lepou. Merrick Rillstone – playing limited minutes in preparation for a Finals clash with Australia – chipped in with 7 quick points over a 60 second stretch to grow the lead to 21-7. Defense was on display too, with the Kiwis holding Guam scoreless in the last four minutes of the period to take a 32-11 lead heading into the second.
The run continued in the second period, with NZ building the lead up to 30 thanks to scores from Jones and Reed; Guam again held scoreless for a three minute stretch. Looking comfortable on both offense and defense, New Zealand went into the break holding a solid 59-26 lead.
Things would turn in Guam’s favour in the third; the hosts going on an 8-2 run to reduce the deficit to 30. Guam’s improved outside shooting was countered by Lepou’s continued confidence from downtown, as he nailed another pair of triples in the period along with a breakway layup. The Kiwi’s were happy with their 30-point scoring quarter, despite allowing Guam to rack up 23 points on their own.
Although never threatened by Guam as they raced away to a 116-70 win in the fourth, New Zealand will be keen to improve in the same areas that have bothered them in previous games – three point shooting and turnovers. Their 24% three point shooting versus Guam (on 7/29 shooting) was their best showing to date, thanks primarily to Lepou and his 5/8 mark from downtown.
Watch the NZ U15 Boys take on Australia in the boy’s finals of the FIBA U15 Oceania Champs, on Saturday 26 November @ 10pm NZT viahttps://nz.basketball/tv/
New Zealand 116 – Lepou 23 PTS | Reed 16 PTS & 19 REB & 8 AST | Plumtree 15 PTS & 8 REB | Van Der Heyden 14 PTS & 6 REB | Cate 14 PTS | Crate 13 PTS & 7 REB | Rillstone 7 PTS | Jones 7 PTS | Matthews 4 PTS & 5 REB | Dallow 4 PTS | Silberstein 6 REB & 12 AST
Guam 70 – Bork 13 PTS | Aisek 12 | Hernandez 10 PTS | Camacho 9 PTS & 5 REB
Quarter scores: 36-11, 59-26, 89-49, 116-70.
Full box score: http://bbnz.link/21pbf