The outstanding New Zealand U17 Men’s team claimed a bronze medal at the FIBA Asian Championship in Doha on Saturday night with a decisive 89-62 victory in the 3rd/4th play-off game against Lebanon.
In addition, their primary goal of qualifying for the U17 Men’s FIBA World Cup, to be played in Spain next month, was also achieved – as the top four teams in Doha qualified.
With 17 points, including four from seven 3-pointers, Nic Book was once again the leading scorer for the Kiwis. The Cantabrian forward enjoyed plenty of support from other quarters with five other players in double figures. George Turner scored 12 points, while Julius Halaifonua, Phoenix Trego, William Passi and Daniel Matakatea each scored 10 points.
New Zealand conceded the first two points of the game before Halifonua settled the Kiwi’s nerves with back-to-back buckets.
The men in black dominated the remainder of the period, racing to a 28-10 opening quarter lead as the Trego twins Hunter and Phoenix, Matakatea, Turner and Book all made multiple scores.
William Passi’s pair of baskets stretched the New Zealand lead to 36-10 before Lebanon enjoyed a 10-0 run that prompted a timeout from coach Darron Larsen.
His words did the trick as Book and Turner knocked down triples to take New Zealand to a commanding 51-23 half-time lead.
A revitalized Lebanon outscored the Kiwis 24-17 in the third period but the margin was still a very comfortable 68-47 in favour of New Zealand headed into the final quarter.
New Zealand added to their advantage in the final ten minutes, a George Grant triple the last act of a highly satisfying, medal-winning performance from the Kiwis. They can now look ahead with anticipation to the FIBA U17 World Cup in Spain in two week’s time.
New Zealand 89 – Book 17pts & 10rebs | Turner 12pts | Halaifonua 10pts & 7rebs | Matakatea 10pts | Passi 10pts | Petzer 6pts & 7rebs
Lebanon 62 – JP El Shamee 12 | N Choueiri 12
New Zealand Schedule/Results:
- Sunday June 12 v Kazakhstan W 92-67
- Tuesday June 14 v Korea Lost 79-73 AOT
- Thursday June 16 v Kuwait W 107-57
- Friday June 17 v Iran W 72-66
- Saturday June 18 v Japan L 99-79
- Sunday June 19 v Lebanon W 89-62
U17 Men’s National Team
Kaia Berridge – Tauranga City Basketball
Nic Book – Canterbury Basketball
George Grant – Basketball Otago
Julius Halaifonua – Harbour Basketball
Dante Matakatea – Basketball Auckland
William Passi – Counties-Manukau Basketball
Kalid Petzer – Basketball Auckland
Brody Perry – Franklin Basketball
Will Shortt – Basketball Auckland
Hunter Trego – New Zealand
Phoenix Trego – New Zealand
George Turner – Counties-Manukau Basketball
Head Coach – Darron Larsen
Assistant Coach – Chris Tupu
Assistant Coach – Jack Williamson
Team Manager – Scott Richardson