The New Zealand Women’s U17 basketball team finished 12th in their inaugural appearance at the FIBA U17 World Cup in Minsk, Belarus.
After being regulated to the consolation fixtures, New Zealand beat hosts Belarus to secure a first ever Women’s FIBA Age-Group World Cup victory.
Tara Manumaleuga led all scorers with 19 points, Tayla Dalton scored 14 points (6/10FG) and Charlisse Leger-Walker and Shauna Povey added 10 points apiece. Sharne Pupuke-Robati (12 points and 13 rebounds) and Jazzmyne Kailahi-Fulu (8 points, 15 rebounds and 5 steals) were dominant on the boards as New Zealand won the rebounding count 54-39 and the match 73-59.
New Zealand Head Coach Lori McDaniel was naturally delighted with the result.
“The coaching staff, management and players are absolutely stoked to get the win and not just a win but a very convincing one.
“We had players like Sharne Pupuke-Robati putting together some really great numbers across the board, McDaniel acclaimed.
New Zealand grabbed the initiative at the beginning of the third period outscoring the hosts 12-1 after being down 28-29 at halftime. Povey and Manumaleuga both knocked down threes as the Kiwis moved the ball with pace and accuracy to find the open shooter.
Belarus fought their way back into the contest but a buzzer beating three from Dalton ensured New Zealand were well placed at three-quarter time leading 52-45.
Povey and Pupuke-Robati initiated a decisive 8-2 run at the start of the fourth period and from there New Zealand, with Leger-Walker controlling proceedings, eased to a famous victory.
New Zealand should have enjoyed repeat success against Mali, but fell in overtime 66-64 in overtime to Mali at the FIBA Under 17 World Cup in Minsk, Belarus on Saturday.
A victory would have given New Zealand a top ten finish in their first ever appearance at a Women’s FIBA Age-Group World Cup but the Kiwis, after controlling most of the contest, were stunned by a late Mali revival.
In a bruising encounter New Zealand led 46-32 at three-quarter time and appeared on track for consecutive wins after defeating Belarus the previous day.
When Charlisse Leger-Walker (25 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists) and Tara Manumaleuga (14 points) scored on consecutive plays New Zealand led 57-46. However, plagued by turnovers, the Kiwis were outscored 11-0 by the African champions in the closing three and a half minutes.
New Zealand Head Coach Lori McDaniel was, like her players, very disappointed with the result.
“It was a tough battle that came down to the wire. Again we were plagued by costly turnovers in a very physical battle.
“Mali never gave up and credit to them for battling through for the win,” McDaniel mourned.
New Zealand finished the tournament with a disappointing 88-66 defeat to China.
Charlisse Leger-Walker led all scorers with 23 points and added 11 rebounds and 4 steals. Tara Manumaleuga contributed 18 points (5/9 3PG) and Jazz Kailahi-Fulu secured 7 rebounds and 8 points.
New Zealand fell 17-11 behind in the first quarter and 45-26 at half-time.
Things looked to be turning ugly in the middle of the third period when the Kiwis fell thirty points behind but they rallied behind three triples from Manumaleuga and scores from Helen Matthews, Tayla Dalton and Kailahi-Fulu to cut the deficit to 59-43 at the three-quarter mark.
New Zealand Head Coach Lori McDaniel lamented her team’s sluggish opening.
“After a very slow first half the girls made some really great adjustments and came out with a lot of fight.
“The Chinese shot the ball unnervingly well which is a credit to them but our girls showed some great fight....“Overall I think we have showed we can compete on this world stage.” McDaniel said.
Leger-Walker, a tireless leader, finished the tournament placed fourth highest individual scorer (15.1ppg) and eighth highest rebounder (8.0rpg).
Manumaleuga averaged 12 points per game and finished twelfth highest scorer.
Kailahi-Fulu was the fourth highest rebounder (9.0rpg)
In the gold medal game USA proved much too good for France winning 92-40 and Australia claimed bronze beating Hungary 57-51.
The New Zealand Women’s Under-17 basketball team will be playing for consolation only at the remainder of the FIBA Under 17 World Cup in Belarus.
In their inaugural appearance at the event, New Zealand has lost their opening four matches.
Following a sluggish start, New Zealand produced two fiercely competitive showings before suffering a hiding to Australia in their Round of Sixteen fixture yesterday.
New Zealand were beaten 83-48 by Spain in their opening game in Minsk on Saturday.
The score didn’t do justice to the New Zealand effort as in the middle of the third period they trailed one of the European powerhouse teams by single figures. However 33 turnovers, most at the back end of the game, proved costly as the Kiwis were outscored 26-8 in the closing quarter.
Jazzmyne Kailahi-Fulu led the New Zealand effort with a fine double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds (including 6 offensive boards) with Tayla Dalton (11 points and 9 rebounds), Charlisse Leger-Walker (10 points) and Tara Manumaleuga (9 points and 6 rebounds) the other major contributors.
New Zealand were certainly not overawed in their first appearance on the world stage as Kailahi-Fulu gave them an early 7-4 lead and although that advantage was quickly extinguished the Kiwis were giving a good account of themselves trailing 22-19 at quarter time and 39-31 at halftime.
New Zealand’s Spanish slump endured for much of the match against Hungary. Down twenty-two points early in the third period New Zealand remarkably closed to within a single point (55-54) with four minutes to play but couldn’t quite pull off a major upset against the European Championship runners-up.
Guard Tara Manumaleuga paced the Kiwis with a game high 23 points and she received fine support from Sharne Pupuke-Robati (6 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists), Charlisse Leger-Walker (10 points and 10 rebounds), Helen Mathews (7 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals) and Tayla Dalton (4 points and 4 rebounds).
The effort was even more commendable given forward Jazz Kailahi-Fulu missed all the second half with a rolled ankle after New Zealand had entered the contest two players light with the injured pair of Isabelle Cook and Kyra Paniora absent for the second game running.
New Zealand Head Coach Lori McDaniel was understandably pleased with the performance of her charges.
“The team definitely stepped up to the challenge of making changes for the second game, going down to the wire losing by just eight points to the second best team at the European Championship is absolutely incredible,” he said.
New Zealand was left to rue a missed opportunity in their last game of pool play against Argentina on Tuesday. The Kiwis succumbed 60-52 to Argentina on Tuesday.
When Sharne Pupuke-Robati (17 points and 9 rebounds) converted a pair of free throws with 1:57 to play New Zealand trailed by just a single point (50-49) and it looked as if their strong defensive effort might carry them to victory.
However it was not to be - Argentina reeled off nine straight points in the closing two minutes to deny the Kiwis.
After a horror third period, when the Kiwis scored just six points, it was Pupuke-Robati and Charlisse Leger-Walker (13 points, 6 rebounds and 10 assists) that provided the scoring impetus early in the fourth quarter to carry New Zealand within sight of victory.
Head Coach Lori McDaniel was understandably disappointed with the result.
“It was a disappointing finish after a really good start. In the first half we executed the game plan, we moved the ball well and defensively did the things we wanted to do.
“In the second half we went away from that and it cost us down the stretch,” he said.
Early on, three’s from Madison Hema and Shauna Povey helped propel New Zealand to a 16-13 first quarter lead.
Pupuke-Robati and Jazz Kailahi-Fulu (8 points and 6 rebounds) were prominent as a 13-3 run stretched the New Zealand advantage to 29-16. Argentina dealt only in triples, making three in the period to trail New Zealand 31-23 at the interval.
Despite Ella Bradley being the only Kiwi to score from the field in the third quarter, the other points coming from the free-throw line, New Zealand trailed by just a single point (38-37) with ten minutes to play.
The disappointment of a near miss against the Pumas clearly told against Australia, New Zealand hammered 77-37. The reigning World Champions were dominant from the outset and Lori McDaniel was naturally downbeat when summing up the New Zealand performance.
“It was a disappointing showing against a very tough and well drilled Australian side,” McDaniel conceded.
The Kiwis only shot 24% (12/51) from the floor and made just 3 from 29 triples – all scored by Leger-Walker. New Zealand turned the ball over on 26 occasions compared with just 9 possession losses by the opposition.
Charlisse Leger-Walker scored 15 points (5/11FG), Sharne Pupuke-Robati was next best with 8 points and Jazz Kailahi-Fulu, featuring in the top ten rebounders at the World Cup, pulled down 7 boards to accompany 6 points.
Shyla Heal, daughter of legendary Australian Boomer Shane Heal, led the scoring for the Sapphires with 20 points.
New Zealand plays Belarus in the 9-16 place quarter finals.
Ezrah Aukuso-Vaigafa believes two of his strengths on a basketball court are “making everyone around me better by getting them involved and just being vocal.” The Rongotai College and New Zealand Under-17 point guard has plenty to talk about at present. Last week at the National Under-17 championships, Aukuso-Vaigafa was named tournament MVP as Wellington captured the title in a thrilling decider against Auckland.
Earlier in the month, Aukuso-Vaigafa returned from the FIBA Under-17 World Championships in Argentina where New Zealand competed for the first time. With 2:52 remaining on the clock in the National Under-17 final on Saturday, Wellington and Auckland were tied at 84-84. In a game which featured multiple lead changes, Wellington coach Terry Stallworth was forced to call a timeout to try and suppress an Auckland rally. Why was Wellington able to pull though and prevail 95-90?
“I believe every player from the starting five to the bench had a significant role to play. Without the support of bench we wouldn’t of been able to go out and perform. Their constant feedback and positive words enhanced our performance every time we stepped back out on the floor. They were always hyped up and locked in. Personally I had faith in every player who went out on the court to perform,” Aukuso-Vaigafa responds.
Aukuso-Vaigafa, who scored 18 points in the final, made a crucial pass to Tafara Gapare who nailed a clutch three before Wellington outscored Auckland 4-1 from the freethrow line in the last sixty seconds. Delivering under pressure is a quality Aukuso-Vaigafa is growing – exposed to the best youngsters in the World in the past month.
“The FIBA World Cup was an amazing experience. I got to witness players at the highest level everyday. The talent was unbelievable and being in that environment is something I won’t forget and will try and learn from,” Aukuso-Vaigafa enthuses.
New Zealand finished 14th out of 16 countries, earning their first ever win at the tourney 62-57 over China. While an obvious highlight, Aukuso-Vaigafa identifies another game as a standout.
“Every game was difficult as the level of play from all the countries was very high, but the one game that really stood out was the game against the French. Being able to play the team that finished second was a really good measure of how far you we had come, but also how good you have to be,” Aukuso-Vaigafa observers.
Rongotai College didn’t have what it took to compete in Wellington basketball, languishing in lowly positions for many years. That has changed in the past few seasons. Aukuso-Vaigafa was a member of two Rongotai teams who won the North Island junior regionals and last year guided the First V to their first top eight finish at Nationals in two decades. What’s driving Rongotai’s resurgence?
“Mainly the team environment and the bond we have with each other. We are like a family always looking out for one another. The players and coaches know each other so well we trust one another to go out and perform to our strengths,” Aukuso-Vaigafa answered.
Last year Aukuso-Vaigafa was MVP of the National Under-15 tournament also won by Wellington. In 2016 he was a member of the Rongotai junior 3×3 team which claimed a national title. This week Aukuso-Vaigafa is in Los Angeles for an on-campus college basketball experience.
Wellington Under-17 Nationals Results
Pool Play: Hawke’s Bay, 12-68
Pool Play: Rotorua, 109-68
Pool Play: Tauranga, 107-61
Pool Play: Canterbury, 95-80
Quarter-Final: Tasman, 109-78
Semi-Final: North Harbour, 130-113
Final: Auckland, 95-90
Wellington tournament selections: Ezrah Aukuso-Vaigafa, Tafara Gapare, Ezekiel Stallworth
The New Zealand U17 National Basketball Championships start tomorrow in Wellington and run through to Saturday and will feature some of the country’s top young talent.
Three of the New Zealand U17 boys team are still young enough to play at this tournament, having only just stepped off the plane after the FIBA Under 17 World Cup in Argentina, which finished on Monday morning with the team placing 14th overall.
Ezrah Vaigafa will play for Wellington, while Waitaha Red have U17 World Cup representatives Mac Stodart and Samuel Jenkins.
Harbour are the defending champions. The Association is bringing three teams to the tournament including a B squad and an Under 16 team.
There are a number of talented newcomers to this age group to keep an eye on, although still rookies in this age-group and more likely to be forces in 2019. Paora Winitana Junior has just transferred from the Hawke’s Bay to Harbour. The now Westlake Boy’s student was MVP last year at the Under 15s where he help lead the Hawke’s Bay team to a National title. His rival from that tournament, Josh Book, will be back for Tasman. These two traded shot for shot in 2017 Under 15 Grand Final, when the game went into overtime and showed both young men thrive under pressure.
For the New Zealand U17 Girls’ team that will depart for the FIBA U17 World Cup in Minsk next Monday, only Jazzmyne Kailahi-Fulu will be on court at the Under 17 Nationals, representing Harbour.
She’ll be backed up by her younger sister Zaaliyah Kailahi-Fulu, who joins the age-group for the first time.
Another squad that traditionally makes the playoff rounds is the Waikato team. This year the U17 squad features Quaye Walker-Eketone and Jayze Lee Waihi, who both are fresh from the Waikato Wizards team were runners up in the Women’s Basketball Championships that finished last weekend. Interestingly, another player from that Wizards team, Alyssa Hirawani, is also part of the Under 17 Waikato squad, but as Assistant Coach.
Head Coach of the Tall Blacks, Paul Henare, will also attend the event to help Basketball New Zealand selectors and coaches identify talent for future high performance programmes.
The Girls and Boys finals are on Saturday at 4.00pm and 5.45pm respectively.
Rosters: A full list of squad members and representative teams can be found here: http://nz.basketball/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=5pSPlzd3v0k%3d&portalid=26
Livestream: On the last two days of the Nationals, 12 games will be livestreamed, on 13-14 July.
13 July Livestream
10:45am: Girls QF2
12:30pm: Boys QF1
2:15pm: Girls SF1
4:00pm: Girls SF2
5:45pm: Boys SF1
7:30pm: Boys SF2
14 July Livestream
8:00am: Girls 5th/6th Playoff
9:45am: Boys 5th/6th Playoff
11:30am: Girls 3rd/4th Playoff
1:15pm: Boys 3rd/4th Playoff
4:00pm: Girls Grand Final
5:45pm: Boys Grand Final
The New Zealand Under 17’s created history at the FIBA World Cup of Basketball in Argentina on Sunday morning, beating China 62-57. It was the Kiwis first ever win in the tournament and easily the team’s best performance as China struggled to keep up with New Zealand’s hot shooting. They shot 44.8 percent from the floor and were 7-of-16 from 3-point range.
New Zealand jumped out to a 17-8 lead after the first quarter, and it was their hot start that helped set them up for the remainder of the game.
Mitchell Dance followed up his 30-point performance against Serbia with another fine showing. He finished with 23 points, seven rebounds and four assists in 35 minutes, shooting 10-of-21 from the field and 2-of-5 from three.
Marvin Williams-Dunn had his best game at the World Cup, totaling 17 points, three rebounds, four assists and three steals on 6-of-9 shooting and 4-of-5 from three. Anzac Rissetto added eight points and eight rebounds in his 26 minutes of work.
Head Coach Dave Bublitz was thrilled with the performance.
“The boys started really positively and put them on the back foot early. We never lost the lead, but China clawed it back at the end of the game.
“The team finally got a decent field goal percentage which helped. Marvin’s shooting was massive for us.
“It was on the defensive end where we managed to make a real difference. A real grind that the boys can be proud of,” said Bublitz.
New Zealand was hoping to cause a boilover in the quarter finals, but were smashed 48-88 by eventual runners up France.
France’s length and athleticism were tough to overcome, as they held New Zealand to 30.8 percent shooting from the field and 4-of-19 from three. They also forced 27 turnovers, New Zealand’s highest mark during the tournament.
Kainoa Lepou led the team in scoring with 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting, while Marvin Williams-Dunn added nine points with two 3-pointers. Anzac Rissetto had another solid game for New Zealand, posting nine points, eight rebounds and two assists on 3-of-5 shooting.
Head Coach Dave Bublitz was pleased with the team’s effort against one of the world’s top squads.
“Our goal was to try and play the game at our pace. We managed to do this for parts of the game. Our consistency and ability to stay disciplined for the full 40 minutes let us down.”
“Keeping a team like France under 90 points was a great effort but we feel it could have been closer to 80. Their length and athletic ability caused problems as we turned the ball over too many times, leading to transition buckets for them,” Bublitz conceded.
Following the French fall, New Zealand battled Serbia in the 9-16th consolation round and were defeated 51-78.
New Zealand remained within striking distance through three quarters, but a 28-12 run by Serbia in the fourth quarter was enough to propel them to victory.
Mitchell Dance was fantastic with 30 points, six rebounds and one steal in 33 minutes, shooting 12-of-25 from the field and 2-of-8 from three.
However New Zealand’s inconsistent shooting held them back from making a real run in this game. They shot just 26.1 per cent from the field and were 6-of-30 (20 per cent) on 3-point attempts. Serbia also enjoyed a significant advantage on the glass, out-rebounding New Zealand 62-34.
Head Coach Dave Bublitz was happy with the team’s defence against the third best team in Europe.
“Defensively we did a great job by limiting them to 76 points. Our bigs got into ️foul trouble and we had no Shalom Broughton.
“Everyone’s ability to put the ball in the basket, except Mitch Dance, was the glaring difference.”
New Zealand lost the 13th-14th playoff 51-73 to the Philippines. New Zealand was strong defensively out-rebounding the Philippines 60-43, but once again were left to rue an inaccurate shooting display. New Zealand only hit 15-of-55 from the field, losing every quarter of the match.
Once again Mitchell Dance produced a noteworthy performance collecting 12 points and 11 rebounds. Shalom Broughton was the only player to score double digits reaching 10 points while Anzac Rissetto was tireless on the boards collecting 12 rebounds, over a quarter of the entire Philippines total.
The tournament was won for the fifth consecutive time by the USA who thrashed France by a record score of 95-52 in the final. Isaiah Stewart headed four US players in double digits by contributing 15 points and nine rebounds. The USA have won 37 games in row stretching back to the inaugural tourney in 2010.
Jalen Green a guard from Fresno, California was named tournament MVP. Green led the USA in scoring with 15.7 points per game while also averaging 2.3 rebounds and over an assist and a block per game. Green scored 25 points in the quarter final and 27 in the final.
The New Zealand Under 17 basketball team will require a monumental upset to reach the quarterfinals of the FIBA World Championships in Argentina after losing all three games in Group C this week.
New Zealand’s stumbles mean they will face Group D winners France in the Round of 16.
The French have won all three of their matches comfortably outscoring hosts Argentina, Philippines and Croatia by a combined score of 256-155.
Kiwis Head Coach Dave Bublitz isn’t without hope.
“Our next opponents, France, are the favourites to meet the USA in the final. They’re very long, athletic and skilled.
“It will be a massive challenge that the boys are looking forward to. To play two of the top three teams in the world within 36 hours is exciting,” said Bublitz.
New Zealand lost their last group game this morning to unbeaten Canada. Canada burst out to a big 26-12 lead after the first quarter. New Zealand showed greater resolve in the second and third periods, but Canada charged on to claim the last quarter 31-12.
New Zealand’s errant 3-point shooting showed some improvement, as they finished 9-of-30 from distance. Tom Cowie and Marvin Williams-Dunn managed two 3-pointers each.
Mitchell Dance finished with 13 points and seven rebounds to lead New Zealand. Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe was letal for Canada scoring 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting. New Zealand was out-rebounded 49-41.
A sluggish start was a similar problem in the 56-80 loss to Montenegro on Monday morning.
Montenegro jumped out to a 27-11 lead in the first quarter, and despite New Zealand winning the second quarter 14-11, the large deficit proved too heavy to overcome.
Mitchell Dance led the scoring for New Zealand with 14 points. He added eight rebounds and two steals in 27 minutes, shooting 6-of-15 from the field.
Anzac Rissetto was productive with 13 points and nine rebounds on 6-of-10 shooting, while Marvin Williams-Dunn scored 10 points with three steals.
Montenegro’s efficiency from deep was telling, shooting 14-of-37 on 3-point attempts. New Zealand went a lousy 2-of-16 from distance.
Luka Zivanovic (20) and Bojan Tomasevic (21) combined for half of Montenegro’s scoring.
New Zealand opened the tournament falling to Egypt 50-64. New Zealand outscored the Africans 21-13 in the third quarter, but poor shooting was costly with only 24.6% of shots hit from the field.
Kainoa Lepou was productive with 13 points and seven rebounds on 6-of-12 shooting, while Mitchell Dance chipped in 10 points. Egypt had four players score double digits with Momen Mohamed Hassan leading the way with 13 points.
Coach Dave Bublitz was frustrated with the first outcome.
“We generated good looks and had plenty of opportunities, unfortunately, we just couldn’t make shots,” said Bublitz.
“The boys had a great third quarter and got themselves back in the contest, but some disappointing turnovers stalled our momentum.
“Staying confident in our shooting and having more discipline on defence are musts in our next game.”
New Zealand plays France tomorrow morning. All games at the FIBA Under 17 World Cup are being live streamed on the FIBA Youtube channel, or you can watch live on the Basketball New Zealand Facebook page
The New Zealand junior basketball programme will soon name the men’s and women’s teams ahead of the FIBA Under 18 Asia Championships.
The Junior Tall Blacks finish a selection camp today in Wellington. The team that will be named from that will then prepare for their Asia Championships in August in Thailand.
The Junior Tall Ferns will have a selection camp at the conclusion of the girls’ Under 17 World Championships, which are in Minsk, Belarus later this month. Head Coach Jody Cameron will also watch a number of longlist players during this week’s WBC tournament in Dunedin, starting 5 July.
The Junior Tall Ferns Asian Championships will begin on 28 October in Bengaluru, India.
Aon New Zealand Junior Tall Ferns – Longlist for Selection Camp*
Charlotte Whittaker, Canterbury
Keeley Tini, Harbour
Olivia O'Neil, Otago
Grace Hunter, Wellington
Lawrin Tipene, Wellington
Leah Mafua, Wellington
Lauryn Mapasua, New Zealand
Emme Shearer, Harbour
Kay-Hauata Phillips, New Zealand
Zoe Ebbitt, Hawkes Bay/Taranaki
Riva Walker-Pitman Waikato
Alex Bennett South
Mareta Davidson Harbour
Ngapipi Herewini Auckland
Sofia Kennedy Canterbury
Jordyn Maddix Harbour
Tessa Talo-Tomokino Harbour
Rosalia Samia Hawkes Bay/ Taranaki
Paris Lokotui Wellington
Te Araroa Sopoaga Wellington
Parehuia Delamere Harbour
Rashaan Smith Harbour
Arielle Williams McKay Waikato
Katie Jones Taranaki
Rochelle Fourie Manawatu
Parris Mason Taranaki
Sophia Harrison Canterbury
Emily Knight Canterbury
Mele Latu WABI
Koha Lewis Waikato
*Once the Under 17 Girls’ FIBA World Cup has concluded, additional players from that squad may be added to the list.
Jody Cameron, Head Coach
Leanne Walker, Assistant Coach
Tim Dennis, Assistant Coach
Kate Lacey, Manager
Peter Lee, Physio
Aon New Zealand Junior Tall Blacks – Longlist for Selection Camp
Joseph Ahie, Wellington
Cooper Boyce-Towler, Palmerston North
Maxwell Darling, Canterbury
Max De Geest, Canterbury
Tama (Isaac)Faamausili, Palmerston North
Kurt Feneon, Canterbury
Taiaroa Flavell, Otago
Nathan Hanna, Otago
Tomas Higgins, Canterbury
Joshua Leger, Auckland
Corban Mason, Waikato
Sam Mennenga, Harbour
Jaga Mete-Smith, Waitakere West
Matthew O'Connell, Taranaki
Oscar Oswald, Palmerston North
Oscar Robertson, New Plymouth
Klein Salmon, Porirua
Lachlan Scott, Palmerston North
Max Shorter, Auckland
Maxim Stephens, Waikato
Thomas Whyte, Auckland
Flynn Cameron, New Zealand
James Moore, Harbour
Kruz Perrott-Hunt, Harbour
Gavin Briggs, Head Coach
Miles Pearce Assistant Coach
Leyton Haddleton, Assistant Coach
Dawn Chambers, Physio
Charles Maaka Manager
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