A dominant third period propelled New Zealand U17 Men to a 107-57 win against a spirited Kuwait team at the FIBA Asian Championship in Doha, Qatar on Thursday. The Kiwis racked up 41 points after the half-time break, to blow out a 13 point lead to a comfortable win.
The result means New Zealand will play Iran, the top seeded Asian team at the tournament, in a quarter-final tie on Friday at a yet to be confirmed time.
The win saw all twelve New Zealand players get on the scoresheet as head coach Darron Larsen was able to spread playing minutes amongst his group. Nic Book (17 points and 10 rebounds) and Julius Halaifonua (12 points and 10 rebounds) were joined in double figures by Will Shortt and Kaia Berridge with 12 points apiece.
Dante Matakatea made a layup on the opening possession and George Turner landed a triple as New Zealand built an 8-0 lead. However Kuwait showed they would be no pushover, the Kiwis having to work hard for a 21-15 quarter time lead.
Kuwait scored the first four points of the second quarter and were all square two minutes into the spell. But Book and Halaifonua restored a semblance of control in the middle stages of the period as New Zealand built a 10-point buffer (33-23), the margin increased to 45-32 at the interval.
Kuwaiti sharp-shooter Adel Alsaied led all scorers at the break with 13 points (3/5 3PG) with Book’s 11 points the best for the Kiwis.
New Zealand took total control of proceedings in the third period reeling off 20 unanswered points – the highlight a baseline drive with a two-handed dunk to finish from Berridge. Frustration got the better of Kuwait’s best player, and leading scorer, Alsaied – two quick technical fouls resulted in his expulsion from the game.
A buzzer-beating three from Berridge meant that the Kiwis had racked up 41 points in the quarter to lead 86-41 with ten minutes to play.
A two-handed flush from Shortt saw him become the third Kiwi into double figures, however the frenetic pace of the third was replaced by a more pedestrian tempo in the fourth – as New Zealand perhaps cast one eye in the direction of a quarter-final tie the next day.
That will be against Iran, with not only a semi-final berth at stake but also a place at the U17 Men’s FIBA World Cup to be played in Spain in July – with the top four teams in Doha qualifying for that major tournament.
New Zealand 107 – Book 17 PTS & 10 REBS | Halaifonua 12 PTS & 10 REBS | Berridge 12 PTS | Shortt 12 PTS | Perry 9 PTS | Petzer 9 PTS | Matakatea 9 PTS | H Trego 9 PTS
Kuwait 57 – A Alsaied 17 | F Alhusaini 17
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 (Time TBC)
*Dates and times of further play-off games will be dependent on the results of other games
The 13-team Tournament, postponed from 2021 due to Covid, doubles as a Qualifying Tournament for the U17 Men’s FIBA World Cup to be played in Spain in July – the top four teams in Doha will qualify for the World Cup.
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
The U16 Asia Cup fixture schedule can be found on the link below. Follow all the action at nz.basketball/tv