The New Zealand women’s 3×3 team has won two from two in their hard fought opening matches at the FIBA 3×3 World Championships, and are looking hopeful for the playoffs with the top two teams of each pool proceeding. This is a big effort given the New Zealand women are the lowest ranked team in their pool at 16th.
Game one: NEW ZEALAND WOMEN V UKRAINE
Their first game against the eighth ranked Ukraine was an impressive scalp for the Kiwis. New Zealand started slowly and was down in the first half, but slowly reeled in Ukraine to lead for the last minute of the game. Head Coach Anthony Corban said all players contributed and the win should be notched up to a well-synced team effort.
“Krystal Leger-Walker captained the team well. Her tactical ability to read the game and change things up were crucial down the business end of the game. Georgia Agnew was a nightmare for their guards to handle and made some crucial baskets. And Deena Franklin was a mountain of strength on the boards and scoring in the low post.”
The cherry on top was Krystal slot-pass being named the fourth best play of the day.
Final Score New Zealand 14, Ukraine 12.
Game two: NEW ZEALAND WOMEN V POLAND
Again New Zealand came backed up their dark-horse status by rolling ninth ranked Poland in their second game of the day. Corban said both teams were feeling the effects of tough opening games, with the hot humid conditions taking their toll on many athletes at the event. Yet the Kiwis stuck to their game-one plan, proving it to be equally successful in game two.
“Again our double guard punch of Georgia and Krystal were too quick for their opponents. And Deena Franklin was again outstanding, monstering her opponents in the low post and rebounding.”
Final Score New Zealand 13, Ukraine 10.
Next up for the New Zealand women’s team is the number one ranked Netherlands, followed by 15th rank Indonesia, which rounds out the Pool A matches. Both matches will be played on Friday.
INDIVIDUAL SKILLS CONTEST
Georgia Agnew has made the final of the individual skills contest and will compete for the title on Day 4 at 11.30pm NZ time
The New Zealand Men’s team has been struggling against stronger opposition, out-ranked and out-played against seasoned and mostly professional teams.
Game one: NZ MEN V RUSSIA
New Zealand went basket for basket with the big Russian team for most of the game, until Russia had a strong run towards the end. Head Coach Anthony Corban says the game changer for the Kiwis was a disputed technical foul on New Zealand.
“We were down one with three minutes to go and got a deflection, and one referee awarded us the possession. The other referee then technicalled one of our players for taunting – when he was clapping his team mate for working hard. It changed the momentum of the game, and Russia were then up two, then hit a two off the next play. Our boys just ran out of steam and melted in the hot and humid conditions.”
Final Score: NZ 12 – RUSSIA 22
Game two: NZ MEN V ITALY
New Zealand encountered a tight unit in their loss to Italy. Coach Corban says it was a fairly dominant performance by the team more suited to the conditions.
“As a group we lacked defensive energy and that showed early on when Italy feasted off our poor box outs and racked up five offensive rebounds in a row. The short turn around in games left us struggling to stay in the game over the last minute. The Italians were thriving in the hot and humid conditions while we struggled.”
Final Score: NZ 11 – RUSSIA 21
New Zealand has two more tough assignments when they round out pool play on Thursday. They face No 1 seeds Serbia after facing No 15 Qatar.
New Zealand 3×3 Women’s Team: Georgia Agnew (Waikato Basketball), Deena Franklin (Harbour Basketball), Breana Jones (Counties Manukau Basketball Association), Krystal Leger-Walker (Waikato Basketball Council).
New Zealand 3×3 Men’s Team: Rory Fannon (Harbour Basketball), Nicholas Fee (Waikato Basketball), Karl Noyer (Harbour Basketball), Hamish Sheridan (Waikato Basketball).