The Junior Tall Ferns faced a rematch with the USA Select team on Thursday in Yuqing as the tour of China entered its second phase.
A full day of travel the previous day, plus a welcoming banquet beginning at 10pm, was not ideal preparation for coach Matehaere and his troops but the team gave a good account of themselves.
Game report from Brent Matehaere (Junior Tall Ferns head coach).
In front of a sold out crowd of 2,400 the Junior Tall Fern’s went down 81-63 to USA Select but not without firing a few shots and gaining confidence for the next two games in this city.
Defense and keeping opposition teams under the 70 points mark has been a feature of this team and tonight we let that slip. The US team came out and shot the ball really from behind the arc knocking down 11 threes. It was the first time that the US had been a threat from deep and they made us pay for helping down on their quality post players.
North Harbour’s Zara Jillings led the Kiwi’s with 16 points including 4 of 6 from 3-point land. Waikato guard Charlisse Leger-Walker seemed to have all the time in the world with the ball and was able to demonstrate her creativity with moments of absolute brilliance. She scored 11 points in a game that didn’t finish until 11.15pm. Forward Katie Diakhaby was really effective in her time on the court using her strength to grab 5 offensive rebounds.
The team fought back in the last 15 minutes of the game closing the gap from being down 26 – 66 and looking like we could be handed a real pasting! The US team continued to pressure us and we were able to find space and convert. The other telling factor was the full court pressure that we put on for the whole game started to pay dividends as we created 17 turnovers.
The team will focus on China tomorrow who survived a tight game against Poland tonight.
Rumour has it that the Kiwis edged the dance battle on the bullet train from Foshan the previous day.
JTF’s 63 – Jillings 16p/2blks, Leger-Walker 11/4rebs/2st, Diakaby 9/7rebs, Clarke 6/5rebs/3a, Finnigan 5/3rebs, Dunn 5/2rebs, Ruske 4/3rebs/3st, Hirawani 3/4rebs/3st, Penese 3/5rebs, Baudry 1/2a