The Aon New Zealand Under 17 team have returned from their tour to the Philippines, having competed against some of the big basketball universities in Manila.
The tour was partly made possible through the help of former Tall Blacks coach Tab Baldwin, who is based in Manila. Baldwin spent three years coaching the Philippine’s national men’s side, before stepping down last year to take a position as Head Coach for the Ateneo University Blue Eagles – one of the highest profile universities in the Philippines known for its academic and sporting reputation.
The Aon New Zealand Under 17s were hosted at Ateneo University for the schedule of six games.
Every game went down to the wire with the final scores being within four points or less. New Zealand won two of these, while also coming away with an experience that New Zealand’s Assistant Coach and the team statistician – Aaron Young – said was invaluable, especially when the trip was a big part of their preparation for their pinnacle event in 2017 – the Under 16* FIBA Asia Championships, to be held in October.
“This trip has been an unbelievable experience for the group and we couldn't have asked for a better way to prepare for Asia Champs in October. Tab Baldwin and his team at Ateneo University were amazing from the moment we landed, making sure we had everything we needed to get the most out of our time in the Philippines,” said Young.
“The growth of our group was evident by the number of improvements we made, on and off the court. As individuals we learned and improved every day. Our chemistry was about building relationships and understanding the responsibility when you put on that black singlet. Coach Tab said it best – ‘You’re ambassadors. You’re a credit to BBNZ, you’re a credit to yourself, coaches and management, but most importantly you’re ambassadors for your families.’”
The Under 17s were playing older and more experienced opposition, with the opposition rosters filled with university age players around 18 years and older. The university teams in the Philippines are well supported and funded, and play in televised leagues. Coach Young was quick to add that the Philippines’ basketball culture is incredible, with it being the most popular sport in the country, played on both the amateur and professional levels – a standard of basketball that he says is like no other.
“The passion, energy and pace that they hang their hat on makes it an exciting environment to be a part of. The biggest adjustment for our group was having to adapt to the speed of their guards and the intensity they play with every possession,” said Young.
Before departing Tab Baldwin visited the New Zealand age-group team to express his thanks and appreciation for the way the young Kiwis carried themselves.
"These experiences are important for your ultimate goal in playing championship tournaments. And what I saw from this week included improvement as team, but more importantly adjustments as individuals to the referees, the style of play – that's what it takes, that's what playing for national teams and playing in international tournaments is all about. So huge credit to you guys and the coaching staff.
“I just want to extend my appreciation to Delwyn Whale [NZ U17s Team Manager], the coaches, and for the ways that you conducted yourself while you were here. So great job, safe trip home and I'm sure our paths will cross again,” said Coach Baldwin.
Game One: Won against University of the Philippines Integrated School (UPIS) - 21 July 2017
Game one was against UPIS, a team that Coach Young said was well-organised and high energy.
“It was our first international game as a team, and the speed and high tempo was something we had to adjust too."
The first quarter was all the home team, hitting four out of five from deep and forcing the Kiwis into six turn overs after 10 minutes. In the second quarter, the Kiwis stepped up their physicality and made sure they punished any mismatches when they were available.
At half time UPIS led 27 to New Zealand’s 25. In the second half, UPIS continued their pressure up the floor which forced New Zealand to cough it up eight times in the third.
“With that continued pressure, free throws started to pile up and we got to the line an impressive 47 times. Unfortunately we only capitalised on 25 out of 47 of those,” said Coach Young.
In the fourth quarter, Mitchell Dance led the way, dominating the glass and finishing some tough ‘And 1s’. After settling in and adjusting to the style of play, the Aon New Zealand Under 17s won in overtime.
New Zealand, 72. (Mitchell Dance 27 points, 10 rebounds. Shalom Broughton 14 points, 6 rebounds).
Game Two: Won against Batang Gilas (Philippines Under 16s, ‘Batang’ translates to ‘Youth’) - 22 July
On Day Two of the tour Tab Baldwin addressed the Kiwis for the first time on a day that Coach Young said the Aon New Zealand Under 17s were still adjusting to the climate, humidity and food.
That morning, before the game, Tab Baldwin spoke to the young Kiwi team and shared what Coach Young said was some very compelling stories.
“It was the perfect time for Tab to come in and talk to the boys about Basketball New Zealand and the expectations and the honour of putting on the black singlet."
Not long into the first quarter it was clear that the Kiwis were still adjusting to the referees in the first half, with 8 traveling violations. It was a slow start from for the New Zealanders, but Coach Young said adjustments were made and Tom Cowie and Sharne Perham stepped up defensively, so New Zealand captured the lead 32-29 by half time.
After a Low scoring third quarter, the fourth was led once again led by Mitchell Dance, who stepped up with 11 pts and 4 rebounds in the final period.
“Some game changing plays and extra possessions created from our hustle allowed us to generate a small lead. In the end, clutch Free Throws and strong post-play helped us cap off another close victory against a good team. Coach Dave Bublitz talked to the team after the game about learning from our mistakes and taking care of the basketball, especially having recorded 30 Turnovers for the game,” said Coach Young.
New Zealand, 56. (Mitchell Dance 17 points and 10 rebounds. Shalom Broughton 16 points and 8 rebounds).
Batang Gilas, 52.
Game Three: Lost to Far Eastern University (FEU) - 23 July
The Aon New Zealand Under 17 teams would play two games on Day Three of the tour, the first was against FEU, which would go down to the wire in overtime. It was an impressive display from the Kiwis against a team that Coach Young said is arguably the toughest university team in the Philippines.
The first quarter was an intense spell with multiple turnovers and a fast pace. Showing their experience, FEU jumped out to an early 10-0 lead. The Kiwis made some coaching adjustments and fought back in the second quarter, with FEU up 32-30 at the break.
In the second half, New Zealand battled the boards, but had trouble putting the ball in the hole – finishing the game with only 37% of attempted field-goals.
“Down the stretch was all about both teams making big plays,” said Coach Young. “Marvin was huge, knocking down back to back big 3's late to put us up 3 with 35 seconds left.”
FEU then found themselves scrambling to force the game into overtime. After two made Free Throws, FEU advanced the ball up the floor and hit a last second 3 at the buzzer, extending the game into overtime. New Zealand were hurt by not converting shots in the paint, eventually losing what was a close game to a quality side.
“It was definitely a great game for the boys to learn from after being in a great situation to beat a tough team,” said Young.
New Zealand, 66. (Mitchell Dance 19 points, Shalom Broughton 9, Cullen Marsters 8 points, Marvin Williams-Dunn 8 points).
Game Four: Lost to University Santo Tamos (UST) - 23 July
The second game of Day Three was by far the most physical of the tour and with the Kiwis coming off an extremely close game that morning, it was always going to be tough to follow up with another tough game in the afternoon.
Despite the double header, New Zealand climbed out to an early 31 to 15 lead, showing their unselfishness by making extra passes and executing offensively. However, UST took advantage of the lack of fouls being called and scratched their way back in the game, frustrating the New Zealand group to bring it back to 31 to 23 at half time.
The second half was much the same as the second quarter, with New Zealand having to face UST's 1-2-2 press, which they found difficult, especially with it restricting the Kiwis’ ball movement.
Tom Cowie was a standout in the fourth quarter when New Zealand needed the Point Guard to step up. Coach Young said Cowie did a great job of settling the team, organising the offence, and slowing the game down.
“He was able to handle the pressure and get to the line where he shot 80%.”
After two missed Free Throws from FEU with 12 seconds left, Shalom took the rebound coast to coast where he unfortunately missed a layup to win it.
New Zealand, 68.
Game Five: Lost to LaSalle GH - 25 July
Coming off a day’s rest, the Aon New Zealand Under 17s were able to reflect and shift their focus to training at Ateneo Blue Eagle’s gym.
Coach Young said “self-reflection was key since we had come off a couple of tough close-losses on Sunday. After a well-structured and beneficial training, we rested up and got ready for our Tuesday night match up against a gritty La Salle Green Hills University team.”
Young said New Zealand opened the game with “some good, old fashion, unselfish basketball, showing they were starting to gel as a team and play the right way.
“La Salle couldn't cope with the energy and intensity we played with on the defensive end and that led to easy points in transition, something that we weren't getting in the first three games.”
Some strong post play from Anzac Rissetto and a reasonably high scoring quarter, saw the Kiwis up 26-18 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, La Salle settled in and continued to attack and successfully penetrating the Kiwi defence. New Zealand continued their dominance on the glass, but didn't help themselves by going 0-7 from behind the arc. The Kiwis led 39 to 35 at half time.
Coach Young said the team had to deal with some questionable calls and unforced errors in the fourth quarter, which meant another close finish was on the cards.
“Their main guy, number 27 stepped up and showed his versatility, hurting us in a number of ways, especially on the offensive boards, creating extra possessions and using his strength and athleticism to frustrate our players. He finished with 16 on 7 from 9 shooting and 9 rebounds – he was a tough matchup to say the least.”
After some great execution, the Kiwis had a chance, but failed to convert which left La Salle with the final shot. A tough drive and finish by their Point Guard with 2.2 seconds left meant another nail biting defeat. It was a frustrating loss for the team after doing a number of things right, outplaying them in nearly every statistical category except the main result.
New Zealand, 74.
La Salle University, 76.
Game Six: Lost to Anteneo Dey Manila University (ADMU) - 26 July
Close games became the theme of the tour, with nearly every game decided by four points or less. It was only fitting that the Aon New Zealand Under 17s final game would be yet another close encounter with the hosting side.
Their final matchup against ADMU, a team stacked with some top recruits, one of them being a 6'10 15 year old they call 'Phenom' who locals said was the ‘the next big thing’.
Facing players who had the advantage of significant size and length meant New Zealand had to adjust, and find other ways to attack the paint and convert plays into points.
“Fortunately we were able to do this and our physicality allowed us to get to the line and slow the game down,” said Coach Young.
New Zealand led 18 to 12 in the first half.
“The second half was led by the home team’s #12, who went off for 12 points on 6 from 7 shooting in the third. Tom Cowie matched with 7 of his own.”
This helped Ateneo recapture the lead at the end of the third quarter, 45 to 43.
Going into the final quarter, it took another big session from Mitchell Dance to keep the Kiwis close, with 10 points for that period. A couple of turnovers late were costly, giving Ateneo a two point lead with 25 seconds left. With a timeout to spare, Head Coach Dave Bublitz drew up a play to get something to the rim and force the game into overtime. Ateneo lifted their pressure and denied the post catch, which resulted in another costly turnover. After converting on both Free Throws, the home team hung on.
New Zealand, 69
Aon New Zealand Under 17 Men’s Squad to travel to the Philippines:
• Shalom Broughton (Tauranga Basketball Association)
• Tom Cowie (Southland Basketball Association)
• Mitchell Dance (Harbour Basketball Association)
• Haven Dixon (Wellington Basketball Association)
• Hayden Druce (Harbour Basketball Association)
• Kainoa Lepou (Waikato Basketball Association)
• Cullen Marsters (Waikato Basketball Association)
• Louis Oskam Waitaha (Canterbury Basketball Association)
• Sharne Perham (Rotorua Basketball Association)
• Te Tuaio Rautangata (Waikato Basketball Association)
• Anzac Rissetto (Auckland Basketball Services Ltd)
• Jaylin To’o (Wellington Basketball Association)
• Marvin Williams-Dunn (Auckland Basketball Services Ltd)
• David Bublitz – Head Coach
• Doug Courtney – Assistant Coach
• Aaron Young – Assistant Coach and Stats
• Delwyn Whale – Manager
(*The New Zealand definition of age is different from FIBA. The New Zealand definition for Under 17 is ‘yet to turn the age of 17’, which is what FIBA terms as Under 16.)
Tall Blacks Head Coach Paul Henare has named the travelling roster of 12 for the upcoming Asia Cup in Lebanon, with the team also set for preparation games in China.
The dozen players have been named after three days of a six-day camp in Auckland, and will scrimmage against China in two closed door games today and Tuesday at Bruce Pulman Arena, before departing for China on Wednesday night.
Of the 15 players at the camp, those not to travel are Angus McWilliam, Callum McRae and Quinn Clinton, all were members of the Anchor Junior Tall Blacks that attended the FIBA U19 World Cup in Egypt.
Henare spoke about the three players not to be selected, in the context of the effort of all players attending the camp.
“This has been an invaluable experience for every player. Angus, Callum and Quinn are part of our future and for this week in camp, they are very much part of the present as they understand what it means to be a Tall Black. While they have not been chosen to go further at this point, there is no question the black jersey is there for them in the future, they know the progress they need to make and the continued hard work that has to be put in.”
In naming the twelve, Henare has five Tall Black debutants on his hands, with Isaac Letoa, Luke Aston, James Hunter, Dyson King-Hawea and Sam Timmins all poised to represent at the highest level for the first time (Timmins has previously attended a camp).
Henare is excited about that prospect, as greater depth is added to the game at the top level ahead of a busy few years of FIBA World Cup Qualifiers and the prospect of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
“The great thing about young players is their eagerness to learn and the freshness with which they approach everything. Many of them have had a taste of international basketball with the Select team, but they know that this is another level, I am fascinated to see how they react to the chance they have been given.
“We have spoken about our goals, we have spoken about what is expected of this group and they understand the opportunity that is in front of them, as individuals and as a group. The Asia Cup is a great opportunity for us, the first of many international challenges over the next 12 months, and it is important that we continue to build the depth of our playing pool, and ensure that we have players with international experience to call upon at any time.
The team will play two scrimmages against the full Chinese national team while in camp (Monday and Tuesday), with both games essentially live training sessions for Henare’s team. Given the closed doors nature of the games and the fact they are within the training camp and early stages of preparation for the team, they are not official internationals and players will not receive caps.
“These games came at the request of the Chinese, for them they are perfect given they have been touring in Australia and were looking for another couple of hit outs. Our focus right now however is not on games, it is on preparing and being ready for the Asia Cup next month, so we will be trained as per usual this morning, and will be using them as an opportunity for some live scrimmaging and sharing minutes throughout the group.”
The team will be led by Reuben Te Rangi, with Finn Delany and Shea Ili also named to a three-man leadership group, but Henare stressed that all players are expected to lead in their own way.
“I am extremely proud of Reuben and his development these past few years, I have known him a long time and watched him progress as a player and as a man, he has been superb in camp and has shown natural leadership qualities that will be important to this group, he was a unanimous choice amongst the management team for the captaincy.
“But everyone will be expected to pull their weight, for such a new group, it is important that they all find ways to contribute, whether vocally, through their actions or in their contribution to the team on and off court.”
Tall Blacks Roster to the Asia Cup, Lebanon, August 8 to 23
Shea Ili, point guard, SKYCITY Breakers/Wellington Saints; Derone Raukawa, point guard, SKYCITY Breakers, Southland Sharks; Isaac Letoa, point guard, Wellington Saints; Ethan Rusbatch, guard, Canterbury Rams; Luke Aston, guard, Southland Sharks; Reuben Te Rangi, guard/small forward, Brisbane Bullets, Southland Sharks; Dyson King-Hawea, forward, Nunawading Spectres; Jordan Ngatai, guard/small forward, Wellington Saints; Tohi Smith-Milner, forward, Melbourne United; Finn Delany, forward, SKYCITY Breakers; Sam Timmins, centre, Washington University; James Hunter, forward/centre, Southland Sharks;
The Aon New Zealand Under 17 team has been officially named today ahead of their tour of the Philippines, departing this Wednesday.
The will be traveling to Manilla in preparation for the Under 16* FIBA Asia Championships, to be held in October (FIBA has yet to announce the host nation).
The Kiwi’s will be hosted by Ateneo University, which is one of the highest profile universities in the Philippines, known for its academic and sporting reputation.
The visit has been made possible through the help of Tab Baldwin. The former Tall Blacks and Breakers coach has established himself in the Philippines since 2014, where he was appointed head coach of the famous Gilas, the national Filipino team. Baldwin has since stepped down from the Gilas Head Coach role. While he still advises the Filipino national programme, his coaching duties have been employed by Ateneo University as the schools premiere’s men’s basketball coach.
Head Coach of the Aon New Zealand Under 17 team, Dave Bublitz, says Tab Baldwin has been instrumental in arranging this amazing opportunity for this young New Zealand team.
“Tab has set up an eight day programme consisting of seven games against local universities, high schools and two games against the Filipino National U 16 team.
“The squad will stay, eat and play in the University compound. The athletes will experience the style of basketball that they will most likely come up against in the FIBA Asia Championship, as well as acclimatizing to the local cuisine and the different levels of heat and humidity.
“It is an exciting opportunity for the athletes to cement their spots for the Asia Champs in October.”
Aon New Zealand Under 17 Men’s Squad to travel to the Philippines:
The Harbour Basketball Association has dominated the Under 17 Aon Nationals, with both of their Under 17 boys and girls teams winning their respective Grand Finals in Wellington this evening.
2017 Under 17 Aon Nationals Girls’ Grand Final: Auckland Counties-Manukau vs Harbour
An offensively perfect four minute stretch for Harbour near the start of the game saw them jump out to a twenty point lead thanks to a 17-0 run, as Bronwyn Davidson’s team scored on eight straight possessions. The second quarter wasn’t much better for Auckland Counties-Manukau (ACM), with the Harbour lead sticking at a basket or two either side of 20 points, thanks to their balanced attack, where six different players scored in the quarter – led by Rikki Fiatau’s five points.
ACM started to fight back in the third, getting Harbour’s lead down to 13 on two occasions. Unfortunately for any hopes of a close finish, it seemed every ACM mini-run was immediately answered by Harbour, as they entered the final quarter up sixteen points 73-57.
Jordyn Maddix and Tayla Dalton kept the Harbour score ticking over in the fourth, as they combined for 16 points thanks to five layups, and six points from behind the arc. Monekah Va’ai managed to snag four of her seven steals in the quarter for ACM, but they could only get these extra possessions converted into four points, with Harbour never really feeling threatened.
Harbour’s depth ended up being one of their key advantages, as eight players had at least 15 minutes of time on the court, while ACM only had six players in total to see time on the court.
Harbour, 91: T. Dalton 18 points; J. Maddix 17 points, 7 rebounds, 5 steals; R. Fiatau 15 points, 9 rebounds; P. Delamere 7 points, 11 rebounds
Auckland Counties-Manukau, 76: S. Pupuke-Robati 27 points, 17 rebounds; M. Va’ai 17 points, 7 steals; J. Manase; S. Herewini 10 points.
The U17 Aon Nationals Girls' Tournament team:
1. Jada Manase – Auckland Counties
2. Isabelle Cook – Taranaki
3. Sharne Pupuke-Robati – Auckland Counties
4. Jordyn Maddix – Harbour
5. Riva Walker-Pitman – Waikato
6. Lenilia Moananu – Wellington
7. Helen Mathews – Canterbury
8. Paris Lokotui – Wellington
9. Rochelle Fourie – Manawatu
10.Tayla Dalton – Harbour
The U17s Aon Nationals Girls’ MVP: Tayla Dalton – Harbour
2017 Under 17 Aon Nationals Boys’ Grand Final: Harbour A vs Manawatu
The scoreboard ticked over quickly during this Grand Final, although not quite at the same rate that was in last night’s semi-final, as it took well into the second half before Harbour began to hit at a consistent clip from behind the arc. Instead it was their prowess on the offensive glass that kept them ahead of Manawatu, who were using the three point shot themselves to keep pressure on the Habour team, as both Kopere Tanoa and Tre Wihongi hit three threes in the first half each.
Despite only making 1 of 15 three pointer attempts in the first half, grabbing offensive rebounds on almost half of their missed shots (14/30) saw Harbour enter the half time break with a slim 56-51 lead. In spite of the extra possessions Harbour was gaining, this wasn’t the biggest issue for Manawatu. Instead three fouls on last night’s hero Jake McKinlay in the second quarter were a much bigger problem, as he entered the break with a solid line of 11 and eight. Harbour’s Mitchell Dance was a touch ahead with 21 and 12 himself.
Manawatu kept fighting in the third quarter, with a big three by Wihongi cutting an eleven point Harbour lead down to five (70-65). This was as close as they would get, as Dance scored eight points in a 13-0 Harbour run. Harbour’s 2-3 zone defence started confounding the Manawatu offence, and was coupled with Harbour finally starting to hit shots from behind the arc at a clip they were more accustomed to in the final quarter (3/7, with Ethan Mandeno hitting two of these). This saw Harbour quickly pull away to complete the double championship with their female counterparts.
Harbour A, 102: M. Dance 39 points, 19 rebounds; J. Thornton 18 points, 13 rebounds; E. Mandeno 16 points
Manawatu, 77: K. Tanoa 23 points, 7 assists; T. Wihongi 14 points; J. McKinlay 13 points, 12 rebounds; X. Mason 10 points; S. Brown 10 points
The U17 Aon Nationals Boys' Tournament team:
1. Kainoa Lepou – Waikato
2. Kopere Tanoa – Manawatu
3. Shalom Broughton – Tauranga
4. Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones – Wellington
5. Louis Oskam – Waitaha Canterbury A
6. Jared Thornton – Harbour A
7. Havin Dixon – Wellington
8. Jaga Mete-Smith – Waitakere West
9. Jake McKinley – Manawatu
10. Mitchell Dance – Harbour A
The U17s Aon Nationals Boys' MVP: Mitchell Dance – Harbour A
Tall Blacks Head Coach Paul Henare has announced the list of players that will attend a six-day camp in Auckland, ahead of a final 12-man roster being named to travel to the FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon, via preparation matches in China.
As was indicated last month, the team is shy of experienced players as Henare manages player welfare and club commitments, as New Zealand enters FIBA Asia for the first time. With demands on players set to increase beyond anything experienced before, Henare has identified as a priority the World Cup Qualifiers in November 2017, February 2018 and June/July 2018, as the Tall Blacks look to book a place at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China, and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The team for the Asia Cup will however benefit from the recent introduction of the New Zealand Select concept, brought in by Basketball New Zealand two years ago with the introduction to Asia top of mind, as player depth was always going to be tested.
Henare says it is no coincidence that 8 of the 12 players who toured China last month with New Zealand Select have been named to attend the camp in Auckland, starting July 20 at Bruce Pulman Park in Papakura.
“The New Zealand Select tours are building depth and providing a step on the pathway from domestic competition to playing for the Tall Blacks. Many of the players in contention for the Asia Cup have experience of at least one New Zealand Select tour, so have a better understanding of what it is to play internationally and represent New Zealand, making the step into the Tall Blacks an easier one to handle.
“There is also a core group here that while young, already have experience with the Tall Blacks, with Shea Ili, Reuben Te Rangi, Finn Delany, Derone Raukawa, Ethan Rusbatch and Jordan Ngatai all having worn the black singlet before, many of them at the Olympic qualifiers in the Philippines last year.
“This will be a great group to work with, and one that has the potential to surprise in Beirut. But this is also a great investment in the depth of our game, with these players almost certainly needing to be ready to play their part over the next three years as we build towards the ultimate goal of Tokyo 2020.”
As well as taking the chance to further develop the depth in the game and give a number of young players their chance in the black singlet, Henare is ensuring that the senior group is refreshed ahead of a busy 12-month period, starting with the first World Cup Qualifiers in November.
“I have spoken to all other players and explained the long-term thinking. A number of them weren’t available for a variety of reasons, and while some are disappointed not to be selected for the Asia Cup, everyone understands what we are trying to achieve is on board with the longer-term goals of China 2019 and Tokyo 2020 top of mind.”
As well as those looking to graduate from the recent New Zealand Select tour, there are call ups to the camp for Anchor Junior Tall Blacks Isaac Letoa, Quinn Clinton, Taane Samuel and Callum McRae.
There are also first-time call-ups to a Tall Blacks camp for James Hunter (Southland Sharks), Luke Aston (Southland Sharks and Dyson King-Hawea (Nunawading Spectres – AUS). The call up continues a great week in the life of 25 year old Hunter, following on from his signing with the SKYCITY Breakers yesterday.
Those not considered include Tai Wynyard (not released), Jack Salt (injury), Mike Karena (injury), Dan Fotu (injury) and Mitch Newton (injury), Izayah Leafa (not available), Yanni Wetzel (not released), Matt Freeman (not released) along with others in the NCAA programme who were unable to secure a release from their College commitments. Players invited to the Tall Blacks Camp, July 20 to 26Bruce Pulman Park, Papakura. (Final 12 player roster for the Asia Cup to be selected during this camp):
- Shea Ili, point guard, SKYCITY Breakers/Wellington Saints
- Derone Raukawa, point guard, SKYCITY Breakers/Southland Sharks
- Isaac Letoa, point guard, Wellington Saints, Anchor Junior Tall Blacks
- Quinn Clinton, point guard, Canterbury Rams, Anchor Junior Tall Blacks
- Ethan Rusbatch, guard, Canterbury Rams
- Luke Aston, guard, Southland Sharks
- Reuben Te Rangi, guard/small forward, Brisbane Bullets, Southland Sharks
- Dyson King-Hawea, forward, Nunawading Spectres
- Jordan Ngatai, guard/small forward, Wellington Saints
- Taane Samuel, forward, Wellington Basketball, Junior Tall Blacks
- Finn Delany, forward, SKYCITY Breakers
- Sam Timmins, centre, Washington University
- James Hunter, forward/centre, Southland Sharks
- Callum McRae, centre, Palmerston North Boys High, Junior Tall Blacks.
The Anchor Junior Tall Blacks have ended their FIBA U19 World Cup on a high, thrashing hosts Egypt 85-69 to finish 11th at the tournament, on the first occasion New Zealand has ever qualified a team to play at this level.
The win was earned on a strong performance across the board, the team dominated rebounds as they have through most of the tournament, cut down turnovers and shot the ball at a good clip throughout.
Head Coach Daryl Cartwright spoke of the atmosphere playing the hosts and the way his team handled that pressure.
“The crowd built over the game, there was a delay at halftime and the crowd seemed to double before the second half started and it spurred them on to come back at us but we gathered, made some good plays and finished strongly.
“Our starting group has been pretty consistent for the most part, Taane has been up there in our scoring and I think Tai ended up leading the team for scoring and rebounding. Quinn has provided great leadership to the team as well. But the bench too has provided good production at times, but the starting group has played a big part in our tournament.”
Cartwright acknowledged the contribution from Isaac Letoa in the assist column tonight, as he again went close to double figures.
“Isaac has had two games with nine assists now and does a good job when he plays under control and has our systems running and gets guys the right looks. There have been some areas we have struggled with, notably turnovers, and we got that ratio right tonight for sure.”
Cartwright also referenced the commitment from everyone involved in the team and the programme, most notably the families and players themselves.
“I am proud of the team, the staff and everyone’s families in what we have achieved. It has been a tough six months with our preparation, trying to get all the guys together, with Sam based in Miami and not part of our build up at all really. Our isolation makes it difficult too, trying to play other U19 teams in the buildup to get a feel for the style of basketball that we would come up against.”
While disappointed not to have gone deeper into the tournament and earned a top ten ranking, Cartwright reflected on a team that never threw in the towel and always gave 100%.
“I spoke about it in the locker room today, in virtually every game we were within four or five points in the final moments. A couple of those results below out as we were fouling at the end trying to get back in. But we showed we are a competitive side and found a way even when losing badly in the number of possessions for each team on the back of our turnover issues.
“There are some learnings for our guys, hopefully this experience is a positive one to motivate them to continue to develop, work hard and one day be in the Tall Blacks. This group of young men can be the core of the Tall Blacks for a few years to come, if they continue their development wherever they end up over the next few years.”
Cartwright says the game is in rude good health, with a depth and level of talent being produced like never before, but the challenges are significant for a sport that has multiple national teams and programmes in action at any one time – all largely 100% funded by the sport or the players and their families.
“The game is going from strength to strength, as our local associations and coaches improve their knowledge and systems. We are seeing more and more young people choose basketball as their sport of choice instead of a second sport. I hope that growth continues, but it needs financial support to match it.
“One of the areas is the possibility of long-term government funding to support this programme and filter down to the junior teams. One of the challenges is we are athlete funded, sometimes that can exclude some of our best athletes. I know we are the only team here at the World Cup that is athlete funded, that is the reality of what we are going up against.”
Anchor Junior Tall Blacks 85
Wynyard 17 & 10, Samuel 17, Clinton 12 & 5 & 4 assists, Letoa 7 points 9 assists
A poor second quarter proved costly as the Anchor Junior Tall Blacks were defeated 74-70 by South American powerhouse Argentina at the FIBA U19 World Cup this morning, New Zealand time.
A 16-29 second quarter aside, the young Kiwis were much improved, winning the rebound count 60-43 and improving their accuracy from the free throw line to 66%, but despite winning the second half by 11 points, the margin was too big to overhaul.
Best for the Kiwis were point guard Quinn Clinton (19 points and 12 rebounds), Sam Waardenburg (15 and 10), Isaac Letoa (13 and 5) and Tane Samuel (12 points) in another all-round team effort that had them going toe to toe with the world #9 ranked Argentinians for the majority of the match.
Head Coach Daryl Cartwright was left to rue that poor period in the game after his side appeared to have done their homework effectively.
“We started really well, all of our practice preparation and videos were focused on the mental side of things, turnovers and free throws were something we challenged the guys to improve and we did that for most parts. But unfortunately, we buttoned off a little and Argentina made some shots and got their tails up and we dug a hole we couldn’t come back from.”
Cartwright said the talent is there, it is just the consistency that is lacking from his impressive young group of players.
“We had a good buildup in China but getting exposed to tough games week in week out is hard for New Zealand teams because of our location and the challenge in bringing our group back together. But we have shown we are good enough in this tournament, but the margin is small between being a good team and great team and we have been great in parts but the consistency is the difference for us in being 3 and 0 in this pool and now being 1 and 2.”
Clinton and Letoa again led the guard line superbly, going a combined 32 points and 17 rebounds with the team improved in looking after the ball, with 16 turnovers in a game played at high tempo.
“They played well, we have had a bit of a challenge with over half the team being sick the past two days with s stomach virus. It was a good test of our resilience and we spoke about it and had to find a way to overcome not feeling the greatest and being a bit run down, I think we did that. After the game it was mixed emotions, I was proud of our fight but I thought we could have controlled the game better than we did in patches. It is within us to do that, but we need all guys when they step on the floor to contribute every possession and we had some breakdowns that cost us in the end.”
The New Zealanders were also dealing with adversity of a more serious nature, wearing armbands as a mark of respect to their team mate Tane Samuel, with news of the Samuel family suffering a bereavement reaching the team just prior to their game against France. The team in Egypt and all at Basketball New Zealand send their condolences and prayers to the family at this time.
The team will now face off against another giant of the game in Germany in the round of 16 tomorrow morning, with the time to be confirmed.
New Zealand 70
Clinton 19 points and 12 rebounds, Waardenburg 15 / 10, Letoa 13 / 5, Samuel 12 points
Solanas 16, Lopez 14, Caffaro 11
Out of 20 competing countries, New Zealand has come fourth in the FIBA Under 18 3x3 World Cup over night, after losing to Slovenia in the bronze medal match.
It was a big day of finals matches for the Kiwis in Chengdu, China, with a Quarter Final win over Hungary, followed by a Semi Final loss to number one seed The Netherlands. Coach Corban said by the time the Bronze medal match was played, the Kiwis were struggling to maintain their composure in the over 30 degree heat and intense humidity. But he wasn’t looking for excuses, his frustration was clear, believing the game should have been closed out by his team with a four point lead and two minutes to go.
“After letting this game slip, our team debrief was pretty heated. A team shouldn’t lose a 3x3 game when up by four points with just over two minutes to go, but we did when we had the bronze medal firmly in our grasp. Poor decision making led to turnovers and an avalanche of points on us. It was tough to handle, especially after Rangimarie Mita did a great job getting us back into the game with his two point shooting,” said Corban.
The Slovenians were too consistent under pressure and pulled out, managing to reach the required 21 points first, to claim the Bronze.
Final Score: New Zealand 17, Slovenia 21.
The day had started with the Kiwis playing the Quarter Final against Hungary, a team that relied on the dribble and drive, and dribble and dish, versus the controlled slower game of New Zealand. Although the Kiwis only managed to steady their ship after letting the Hungarians fly away to an early 5 to 1 lead. It took Will Heather to bring the Kiwis back to five all, after muscling every single point back with a small hook under the post.
From there both teams traded blows to remain even for most of the game. It wasn’t until a timely bucket from Thabo Manyere that the Kiwis finally took the lead for the first time. Hungary, unfazed, hit straight back – 14 all with 28 seconds to play. It then seemed fitting for Will Heather to chalk the final game winning point, by again using his trademark dribble, bounce and pop to muscle in the final basket.
Coach Corban was delighted with the team’s performance where they managed to keep their focus in a pressured game where it could have gone either way.
“We managed the game clock quite well to clinch a narrow one point win. It was a total team performance. Everyone contributed in the heat of battle and our on-court communication and leadership was very strong.”
Final score: New Zealand 16, Hungary 15.
The Semi Final presented the tournaments number one seed, The Netherlands. Before the game the boys from Holland refused to accept the Kiwi challenge, cowering into a huddle and choosing to not face their opponents. Perhaps it was just ignorance though - once on court, it was clear the Netherlands wanted this win more.
In the first two plays, the Netherlands were generously given two big open-looks and punished the lack of Kiwi defence by drilling both shots from outside the arc. Isiah Jones managed to notch the Kiwis first point in close, but the Netherlands hit back to make it a 5 – 1 lead.
It was a margin that New Zealand could not recover. The tournaments’ Shoot Out winner, Calvin Poulina, was clinical in constantly moving forward and scoring from almost any position.
The Kiwis energy seemed spent after their hairline Quarter Final win, Coach Corban agreed and said his team didn’t bring that foot speed to the Semi.
“Despite following a pretty strict recovery routine before this game, we were too slow and suffered the consequences. My players assured me they had taken recovery products and food, and we found a nearby shopping plaza that was air conditioned, which was our best option to cool down in! But the Netherlands were too good, we gave them too much room.”
Final Score: New Zealand 10, Netherlands 8.
The Netherlands went onto the Final where they lost to the 2017 3x3 Under 18 World Cup champions Belgium, 17 to 12.
A win is a win, especially when it is your opening game at the FIBA U19 World Cup, so the Anchor Junior Tall Blacks coaching staff are understandably taking the positives from their first up 88-81 victory over world number 15 ranked South Korea in Cairo overnight New Zealand time.
A final quarter flourish led by Quinn Clinton and Tai Wynyard got the young New Zealand side home over the higher ranked Koreans in Pool A, but excessive turnovers and a poor return from the charity stripe looked to have stymied their chances through the first three quarters.
Head Coach Daryl Cartwright was delighted with the response of his side as they turned on the pressure in the final five minutes to overcome a 9-point deficit to eventually win comfortably.
“Parts of the game weren’t up to how we want to play, guys went away from the game plan and didn’t execute but Korea are ranked 15th in the world and we came in 30th. I think a lot of people dismiss them because of who they are rather than looking at the ranking and records, they are a very good team and have played a lot more international competition than us so they were never going to give us the game and made us scrap and fight the whole way, but we found some composure down the stretch and played to our strengths.”
Cartwright did not shy away from those areas of concern, with free throw shooting (17/33) and turnovers (28) the key areas to look at.
“We haven’t shot the ball well from the charity stripe on tour, it is one of those things you don’t want to keep harping on about but it has been a focus in training. It was an ugly number percentage wise and we have left a lot of points on the floor, but the main thing was we made the shots when it counted and put the game out of reach of Korea.
“Turnovers were unacceptable, especially in the third quarter where they put some pressure on us and we didn’t respond. They were getting away with a lot of contact, but we need to play to how the referees are officiating the game and do a better job of looking after the ball.”
Cartwright highlighted Isaac Letoa and the Tai Wynard post game, with Wynyard having to sit for most of the first half after picking up two quick fouls.
“Isaac had a great game, he started strong and was key down the stretch. Tai got in early foul trouble and with two quick ones we couldn’t risk him picking up a third in the first half. For the most part we were controlling the temp while he was on the bench, but Korea made a little run and we managed the rotation to get Tai out of that potential third foul situation and allowed him to play aggressive and strong in the second half. He dominated inside and made his presence felt with some key buckets.”
Cartwright and his coaching staff are under no illusions as to the enormity of the task, but welcomes the chance to take on the best in the world.
“In a World Cup, to get the first win in the pool gives you some momentum. We have a tough pool, I mentioned Korea at 15, tomorrow we play France ranked 9 and then Argentina ranked 7. Both are big teams, have an average age of 19 and many of them play in professional competitions. Both will be a big test of our guys but one they have to enjoy the challenge of taking on that talent and experience.”
Anchor Junior Tall Blacks 88
Wynyard 22, Letoa 14, Clinton 12
South Korea 81
Han 20, Kim 14
New Zealand’s Group A games in Cairo are:
New Zealand v France, July 3rd, 1:30am NZT
New Zealand v Argentina, July 5th, 4:15am NZT
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