The Tall Blacks will look to move on from the frustration of their recent loss, then they face a talented Jordan team tomorrow morning in New Zealand’s last World Cup Qualifier (WCQ) game for 2022.
Coming off a hard-fought loss against Lebanon on Friday – in which the Cedars embarked on a late fourth-quarter run to earn the 77-65 victory – the Tall Blacks know that a vastly improved performance is needed to claim victory against Jordan.
Tall Blacks head coach, Pero Cameron says that the team has reflected on Friday’s loss and will make the necessary adjustments for Monday.
“We felt we were in control of the [Lebanon] game going into the third quarter, we weathered a storm in the third and then that fourth quarter was a battle – we just faded away late,” says Cameron.
“Obviously that’s something we’ve addressed in our trainings; we faced a tough challenge and we didn’t step up to meet it for the entire game; we let ourselves down near the end. We had too many turnovers and only put 65 points up on the board, so we have to be better in that regard – and play better defensively too.”
Despite the loss, Cameron had plenty of positives to take away from the game.
“We had individuals step up and make good plays; we leaned on Ethan [Rusbatch] and Tohi [Smith-Milner] as our vets and Alex [McNaught] did well for his first time with the team, he’s a tough kid and he stood up well to the different challenges Lebanon threw at him.
“With our style of play we rely on our guards a lot – so Alex knows that both him, Taylor [Britt] and Ritchie [Rodger] have some things they’ll need to improve on for the Jordan game. That’s what the training and film sessions are all about, having a look at ourselves and seeing where we can do better for the next game.”
This will be the third time that the Kiwis have played Jordan this year. Their first meeting was in the Asia Cup in July, when New Zealand pulled out a 83-75 win thanks to a Herculean effort by Tohi Smith-Milner [25 pts, 7-10 from downtown] to earn the bronze medal.
And in August, the Tall Blacks beat Jordan 100-72 in a WCQ game at Auckland’s Eventfinda Stadium; the Kiwis boasting five players in double figures as they weathered a 19-point, 12 rebound outing by Jordan’s star guard, Dar Tucker.
Tucker has been named to Monday’s squad, as has 6’11” big man Ahmad Al Dwairi – who racked up 18 pts and 16 rebounds (along with 10 turnovers) in Jordan’s 66-74 loss to the Philippines on Friday. Tucker led all scores with 23 points in that game, while guard Freddy Ibrahim tallied 6 points and 6 assists; the Kiwis know that containing this trio will be key to pulling out a win.
Cameron says that the squad is prepared for another tough battle on Monday.
“Jordan is another tough game for us; both teams have come away with a loss the other night, we’re both a little beaten up and wanting to get the win. So we’ll make adjustments and plan as best we can for Jordan, as always we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
The Tall Blacks take on Jordan tomorrow at 5am NZT in Amman, in the second of two FIBA World Cup Qualifier games in the Middle East. Watch the game live on Spark Sport.
Tall Blacks WCQ Squad Vs Jordan, Nov 2023
Taylor Britt, Canterbury Rams
Walter Brown, Tasmania Jackjumpers / Canterbury Rams
Taki Fahrensohn, Medipolis SC Jena / Auckland Tuatara
Dan Fotu, NZ Breakers / Auckland Tuatara
Hyrum Harris, Adelaide 36ers / Hawkes Bay Hawks
Jordan Hunt, Hawkes Bay Hawk
Alex McNaught, NZ Breakers / Nelson Giants
Jordan Ngatai, Wellington Saints
Anzac Rissetto, South East Melbourne Phoenix / Franklin Bulls
Richie Rodger, Taranaki Airs
Ethan Rusbatch, Hawkes Bay Hawks
Tohi Smith-Milner, South East Melbourne Phoenix
Head Coach – Pero Cameron
Assistant Coach – Michael Fitchett
Assistant Coach – Trent Adam
Previous Games: NZL vs JOR
27 Jul 2022; FIBA Asia Cup, Malaysia – Tall Blacks 83, Jordan 75
29 Aug 2022; FIBA World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers – Tall Blacks 100, Jordan 72
24 Feb 2019; FIBA World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers – Jordan 86, Tall Blacks 80
29 Nov 2018; FIBA World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers – Tall Blacks 95, Jordan 69