New Zealand’s run in both the men’s and women’s Under 18 3×3 Asia Cup in Malaysia came to an end this evening with losses in the quarter-finals.
The women took on the Philippines in their knockout match and were slow out of the gates. They struggled to match the intensity of their foes and this resulted in them chasing the game.
A two from the Philippines at the turn of the third minute gave them a six points to three lead. Helen Matthews looked like she was into score after working her way around her opponent, only for the ball to slide across the rim an out.
She redeemed herself on the next possession with a timely block, but easy misses like her previous attempt proved pivotal down the stretch. Teammate Emilia Shearer was the next Kiwi to score, doing so with a tough layup, and then backing it up with a two-pointer.
Both Shearer and Ella Bradley would go on to score in the next two minutes and the latter tied the game after corralling her miss and putting it through the hoop for one. The Philippines replied with back-to-back and-1s, however, they only converted the free throw once.
New Zealand needed to score quickly with only 20 seconds remaining and did so through a backdoor cut from Bradley. They then played stellar defence, stealing the ball and giving themselves a chance to force overtime. Matthews received a pass from Bradley, worked her way around a Shearer screen and got a good look at the rim. It went in and out. Final score 11-9 to the Philippines.
The men’s game was straight after the women and they went up against Kazakhstan. Outside shooting had been a problem for New Zealand all tournament, though the same couldn’t be said for their opposition.
Kazakhstan’s ability to hit long shots kept the Kiwis honest on defence and this was evident from the game’s second possession when they hit their first two. Mitchell Dance brought it back to even Stephens when he completed a two-point play (one pointer plus free throw).
Thomas Webley replaced Shalom Broughton when Dance went to the line and his insertion drew the applause of many onlookers. He went on to score his side’s next five points, dominating the smaller defender in the paint for easy baskets.
The smaller Kazakhs fell behind as much as four and knew they had to act promptly to not let the game slip away. Jump shots from beyond the arc followed and all five of their attempts fell through the hoop. Just like that, New Zealand was down 9-13.
Webley answered the call once again with a two-point play and worked hard on defence to force a turnover and set himself up for another point. Dance followed his teammate’s efforts up with another and-1, tying the game at 13 all.
The score rose to 15 apiece off the teams trading blows, but Kazakhstan pushed themselves ahead by four after drilling two bombs with three minutes to go. Marvin Williams-Dunn set himself up to play the hero when he drilled a jumper from the wing to half New Zealand’s deficit, only to see Kazakhstan take home the win on the ensuing possession with a bank shot two. A gut-wrenching end to what was an action-packed eight minutes of basketball.