Tall Ferns lose second international to 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

The second international of the Christchurch Casino International Women’s Basketball Series between Japan and the Tall Ferns was played at Cowles Stadium, Christchurch on Friday night and once again Japan proved too strong for the Tall Ferns winning 93-66.The Japanese, ranked 15th in the world gave a fine exhibition in offensive ball movement turning any Kiwi mistake into a scoring opportunity.  The visitors shot an efficient 54% from the field (37/69) and a highly respectable 41% (7/17) from behind the three point arc.

Following some experimentation with the starting line up in the first international on Wednesday coach Kennedy Kereama reverted to a more experienced starting five for game two. The veteran trio of Micaela Cocks, Lisa Wallbutton and Natalie Taylor were joined by young guns Penina Davidson and Kalani Purcell. In other team news Megan Craig and Jess Bygate were omitted from the playing 12 as the 14 player squad was trimmed to a dozen.

A Cocks triple followed by baskets from Wallbutton and Taylor hinted at a promising start by the Tall Ferns but the home side was overhauled late in the period. Seven turnovers in the stanza gifted Japan some easy transition baskets and they led 22-15 at quarter time.

The second quarter proved to be disastrous for the Tall Ferns as they were outscored 25-13 in the period. Kalani Purcell (8 points and 4 rebounds in the half) was a shining light for the hosts but more turnovers and precise shooting by the Japanese gave the visitors a massive 47-28 half time advantage.

The Tall Ferns did manage parity in the third quarter with Davidson and Wallbutton prominent but the margin was still 20 points, 67-47 entering the final period

Samara Gallaher epitomised the Kiwi effort diving on any loose ball to gain posession but the damage had been done earlier in the game. Jacinta Beckley scored her first points in international basketball in the fourth quarter but the game was over as a contest long before the final whistle.

Forwards Davidson (13pts /9 rebs) and Wallbutton 12 pts/8rebs) worked tirelessly for the Kiwis as did point guard Cocks (11pts/5rebs/5assists). Purcell was the other Tal Fern in double figures, once again providing some classy moments on the way to 12 points, 5 rebounds 3 assists and a pair of steals.

Kereama remained upbeat after the game.

“There were plenty of positives to come out of the game but 93 points is way too many to give up in international basketball. We will watch the game tape and make some adjustments for the game in Ashburton on Sunday.”

He scoffed at the idea of resting players with the Australian series just eight days away.

“We need to get in winning mode!”

FINAL SCORE:

TALL FERNS 66 Davidson 13, Purcell 12, Wallbutton 12, Cocks 11

JAPAN 93 Mamiya 15, Motokawa 14, Shinozaki 12

Game 3 is a 2.00pm tip-off on Sunday August 9th at EA Stadium, Ashburton.

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