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
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