The Aon New Zealand U17 Boys basketballers have placed third at the FIBA Asian Championship in Foshan with a 76-60 win over the Philippines on Sunday.
Next up is the U17 World Cup in Argentina in June.
They qualified for the U17 World Cup by reaching the semi-finals of the tournament and falling to Australia 86-61.
Shalom Broughton top-scored for New Zealand, compiling 14 points with five rebounds and three assists (4-of-7 FGs). Tom Cowie added 12 points, while Mitchell Dance and Kainoa Lepou each scored 10.
New Zealand had a superb tournament defensively, making life difficult in one way or another for all six of their opponents. This was a key to them taking control of the game against the Phillipines in their third placed match.
New Zealand trailed 5-12 early in the match, but nine first quarter points for Mitchell Dance helped give his team an 18-14 lead after 10 minutes.
The Philippines possessed a notable size advantage down low, but New Zealand’s frontcourt muscled up on both ends and effectively nullified the mismatch.
New Zealand led 42-21 at halftime, outscoring the Philippines 24-7 in the second quarter. Their large lead was a testament to some solid 3-point shooting, making 5-of-12 from beyond the arc. Five players each hit 3-pointers for New Zealand in the first half.
The Philippines were held to 31.2 per cent shooting from the field and 30.4 per cent from three by New Zealand. Despite the Philippines’ size, New Zealand turned in a massive effort on the glass, grabbing a 48-37 advantage.
Marvin Williams-Dunn finished with a bang for New Zealand, posting 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Dance contributed 16 points (6-of-16 FG) and seven rebounds in the win, while Jake McKinlay added 10 points. Tom Cowie was productive across the board yet again, recording six points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals.
New Zealand head coach Dave Bublitz was thrilled with the team’s effort in Foshan.
“It was a really good way to finish the tournament. To go to the Asian Championship for the first time and earn a bronze medal is something the boys can be really proud of,” said Bublitz.
“It was great to see all of the boys making a positive contribution when subbed in. It was a solid team performance to finish,” he said.
Bublitz and his staff will assemble in May to determine the squad that will head to Argentina for the FIBA U17 World Cup in June.
“The group will meet in early May where they will have to retrial for their spots,” he said. “It’ll provide extra motivation for them to put work in between now and then, so they can cement their spot in Argentina.”
Leger-Walker impresses for Tall Ferns
Charlisse Leger-Walker of St Peter’s School is the youngest player ever to wear a Tall Ferns singlet but on the on the evidence of her showing in the 80-49 defeat of Jamaica, in Cairns at the Commonwealth Games on Saturday, she is destined for a long international future. The 16 year-old guard led all scorers with 18 points and also added 6 points, 4 assists, a steal and a block.
With three wins over Nigeria, Jamaica and India, the Tall Ferns secured a top two spot in Pool B of the Commonwealth Games Basketball Tournament and a place in the Qualifying Finals that start in Townsville on Tuesday.
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