The Junior Tall Blacks (JTB’s) pulled off a stunning victory in the final of the FIBA Under 18 Oceania Championships in Fiji on Saturday evening defeating favorites Australia 57-51.
The Junior Tall Blacks become the first New Zealand age group team to qualify for a FIBA World Championships and to do so against our powerful, well funded nearest rivals makes the victory sweeter. The JTB’s will now head to Cairo next for the FIBA Under 19 World Championships
The heroes for the JTB’s in the closing two minutes were Canterbury guard Quinn Clinton and Wellington forward Taane Samuel. With the game on a knife edge Clinton landed two threes in the final 90 seconds as the JTB’s twice came from behind. His second three produced a slender 53-51 advantage. Clinton had been fouled on the shot but missed the resulting freebie only for Samuel to score on a put back.
After Australia missed a couple of scoring opportunities Samuel iced the game with a pair of free throws to set off wild celebrations amongst the New Zealand team and supporters.
Defence dominated the early stages and it was two minutes into the game before Quinn Clinton scored the first basket of the encounter.
Callum Mcrae scored the next basket for the Kiwis and the big Kiwi centre was also prominent at the defensive end with three rebounds and a block in the quarter.
A tight first period ended with New Zealand 12-8 ahead.
A Sam Waardenburg put back got the scoreboard moving in the second stanza and a Taki Fahrensohn three took New Zealand to a 17-10 lead forcing a concerned Australian coach to call a timeout.
Hamish McDonald connected with a triple followed by a jump shot as New Zealand moved to a 24-16 lead. An excellent first half defensive effort from the JTB’s finished with them ahead 27-20. Waardenburg led all scorers and rebounders at the interval with 7 points and 6 boards.
A pair of Clinton triples took the JTB’s to a double digit advantage but Australia responded with a 10-0 run. That run was broken by Taane Samuel but a strong Australian third period ended with the JTB’s just three points ahead, 40-37.
Flynn Cameron scored with a left handed drive but another Australia run took Australia into the lead 44-42 with 7 minutes to play.
Waardenburg tied the scores only for Australia to reclaim the advantage and with 4:20 to play the Kiwis trailed 48-40. The Kiwis offence had gone cold but a turn around jumper by Samuel moved the JTB’s within two points, 48-46, with three to play.
After that it became the Clinton and Samuel show.
Basketball New Zealand Chief Executive Iain Potter described the victory as, “A great achievement by the team and the coaching staff and an historic moment for New Zealand basketball. The win once again highlights the enormous amount of talent that we have emerging from our national and local development programmes.”
Final Score; Junior Tall Blacks 57 Australia 51
Leading scorers – Clinton 14, Samuel 11, Waardenburg 11 + 12 rebounds.
The JTB’s will arrive at Auckland airport at 5pm on Sunday December 10th on Air New Zealand flight NZ 53 from Fiji
The Junior Tall Blacks (JTBs) followed up an opening win against Samoa at the FIBA Under 18 Oceania Championships with a second big win defeating New Caledonia 137-22 in their second outing early on Friday.
The game tipped off at 8.00am in Suva and the New Caledonians were caught napping. Flynn Cameron opened the scoring for the JTB’s, a couple of Dan Fotu (he had 7 first quarter points) baskets followed, and with the Kiwis ahead 8-0 after three minutes New Caledonia needed a timeout and a wakeup call.
Coach Daryl Cartwright had the luxury of bringing Sam Waardenburg and captain Quinn Clinton off the bench and both found the hoop as the JTB’s forged a commanding lead. Tobias Cameron landed the JTB’s only three of the period but with a quarter time lead of 35-0 it was of little consequence.
A spinning drive from Tobias Cameron opened the second quarter scoring as the JTF’s continued to dominate the plucky New Caledonians. Back to back threes from Hamish McDonald and Flynn Cameron took the JTB’s score past fifty, a one sided opening half ending with the Kiwis 67-2 ahead. Waardenburg (17 points) and McDonald (11 points) led the first half scoring effort.
New Caledonia emerged from the break with fresh energy and scored a couple of neat baskets but the response was immediate from the JTB’s as Waardenburg, Callum McRae and Josh Aitcheson rattled in points. The third ended with a McDonald basket and the JTB’s accelerating their lead 106 to 12.
The impressive Flynn Cameron (9pts, 5rebs, 2a, 6st, 1bl) began the final stanza with a block and an assist for a Taane Samuel score but coach Cartwright was unhappy with some sloppy play and called a timeout two minutes into the period. The JTB’s continued to pile on the points and head for semi-final action in good heart after logging their second win with a margin in excess of 100 points.
Waardenburg (29pts/10rebs), Clinton (22pts) and Fotu (17pts/8rebs) led the scoring but it was very much a team effort with a combined 27 assists logged.
Point guards Flynn Cameron and Isaac Letoa combined for 12 steals as the team amassed 33 in the game. 15 turnovers may be a few too many and just 6 threes from 25 attempts at 24% may need some improvement but the JTB’s will enjoy a rest day on Thursday before semi-final action on Friday.
The winners of the tournament will earn a place at the FIBA Under 19 World Cup in Cairo next year.
Final score: New Zealand 137 New Caledonia 22
Leading scorers for NZ – Waardenburg 29, Clinton 22, Fotu 17, McDonald 13, Aitcheson 11
The Junior Tall Ferns will play their third Pool game against Papua New Guinea today at 12 noon.
The Junior Tall Blacks (JTBs) opened their FIBA Under 18 Oceania Championship with a win over Samoa this afternoon, in a game that was at times chaotic, but ultimately controlled by New Zealand.
First possession and points went to New Zealand, with 6’9” Callum McRae rolling the ball in off his fingertips for two, which began a strong display with attractive periods where the JTBs were quick, efficient, clean and tactical.
JTB Head Coach, Daryl Cartwright, was eager to give every player an opportunity, spreading the minutes across his roster from the opening whistle. At times New Zealand took the easier points through their tall timber of Waardenburg and McRae, with the two leading the scoring early. But that tactic was more relaxed midway through the second quarter, as the Kiwis eased away and established an assertive lead.
With the confidence that comes with points on the board, the team became more comfortable on the fast-break and shooting from outside the arc, yet the JTBs struggled from long range, sinking only 2 from 15 three point attempts during the game. They combatted that erratic play with consistency in the key. Tanne Samuel had some standout moments, revelling with more space late in the second quarter, dunking his way to lead the half time points with 10.
As the third quarter tipped off New Zealand led 61 to 17. Samoa continued to try moving the ball, but always struggled under strong pressure, with large passages of full-court press defence by the Kiwis. Ennui started to set in for Samoa. Their foul-count rate increased and the Kiwis benefitted with easy points, rolling into the fourth quarter 90 to 31.
Despite the big total, there were periods of play that seemed too relaxed by the JTBs. Easy points were regularly missed, simple layups rolled out, and the pursuit of some defensive rebounds lacked desperation and aggression. Coach Cartwright will be looking at where he needs his team to tighten up to ensure the machine runs smoothly, particularly when Australia is powering through their Pool with colossal scores – 132 against Guam and 126 New Caledonia. They are again rock-solid favourites in this event that guarantees the winner a place in the FIBA Under 19 World Cup in Cairo next year. That said, this is the first game and the JTBs will be happy with the final result.
Final score: New Zealand 122, Samoa 35.
Top scorers: Waardenburg 21, Samuel 18, Fahrensohn and F.Cameron 11.
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