Tall Ferns beaten by Japan

Penina Davidson takes a free throw, WBC Championship . Nelson v Waitakere at Edgar Centre Stadium, Dunedin, New Zealand. Saturday 25 August 2012. New Zealand. Photo: Richard Hood/photosport.co.nz

Penina Davidson

Following the loss to Chinese Taipei on the opening day of the 37th William Jones Cup in Taiwan the Tall Ferns took on Japan in the early game on day two. The Tall Ferns fell behind early and were eventually beaten 78-66

The Tall Ferns tweaked the starting line up for this game with guard Stella Beck replacing Samara Gallaher alongside Davidson, Taylor, Cocks and Wallbutton.

Japan took the opening quarter 24-15 shooting the ball at a very efficient clip – 60% (3/5) from beyond the three point arc and 60% (10/17) overall from the floor. The Tall Ferns had seven scorers in the quarter but only forward Penina Davidson (4pts) scored more than one basket.

The Tall Ferns fell further behind in the second period trailing 44-29 at half-time. Davidson led all scorers at the break with 11 points but 15 turnovers in the half really damaged the Fern’s offensive fluency.

The Kiwis enjoyed 17 visits to the foul line as they explored deficiencies in the Japanese interior defence.

The Japanese stretched their lead to 70-44 entering the final period.

The final quarter was more encouraging for the Kiwis as they outscored the opposition 22-8. Davidson led the Ferns scoring with 14 points, centre Megan Craig (8/6 FG) contributed 13 points, 5 rebounds and 4 blocks and Chevannah Paalvast chimed in with 11 points. Rookie Tessa Boagni also scored her first couple of points in international basketball.

The Tall Ferns out rebounded the opposition 40-18 and encouragingly got to the foul line 34 times (scoring on 19 occasions).

But the most glaring and damaging statistic that the coaching staff will want to address is the 31 turnovers committed by the team.

Tall Ferns head coach Kennedy Kereama did confess that matching up against the smaller, quicker Asian teams was presenting some challenges.

“Smaller opposition have really tested our ability to contain. Our forwards were in situations matched up on players quite a bit shorter than them. We are the biggest team at the tournament by 10cm on average, so our zone offence will get tested as we found out last night. We will need to show improvement in this area if we want to come away with some wins here in Taiwan.”

Kereama however is also looking beyond this week as he prepares his charges for the Olympic Qualifying series against Australia next month.

“We also understand that it’s about growing as a group and getting better everyday. The goal is to still beat Australia and these games give us the perfect opportunity to work on what’s needed to get that job done.”

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