The New Zealand Women’s team only lost once at the FIBA 3×3 World Championships in Guangzhou, China but fell agonisingly short of a quarter final berth.
Any team boasting a 3-1 record in pool play could normally expect to advance to play-off action but the Kiwis were denied by points differential as Netherlands (15.5 pts per game average) and Ukraine (14.5) marginally bettered NZ (14.0) as all three teams finished with a 3-1 record in Pool A .
The New Zealand team comprised of Georgia Agnew (Waikato), Breana Jones (Auckland/Counties) and the Tall Ferns pair of Deena Franklin (North Harbour) and Krystal Leger-Walker (Waikato).
Leger-Walker took time out from her pre-season commitments at the University of Northern Colorado where she is about to embark on her freshman season to compete.
Agnew has just returned to New Zealand having completed four years at Utah Valley University where she played 72 games for the Wolverines.
Deena Franklin was an integral member of the Tall Ferns squad during the 2016 international season playing in all 15 games of their international programme.
Breana Jones was a key member of the Auckland Counties Manukau Lady Hawks team this year.
NZ made a good start on Day one defeating Poland (seeded 9th) 13-10 and Ukraine (8th) 14-12. On Day 2 they were well beaten by top seeds Netherlands 20-9 but bounced back to beat Indonesia (15th) 20-18.
Overall this was a fine effort by the New Zealand team to perform strongly at a World Championship event. The team was seeded 16th of the 20 participating nations and defeated three higher ranked teams before being squeezed out by three points on differential.
There was a degree of compensation for Agnew who took the bronze medal in the Skills Contest.
The Cook Islands team, with players that were or are domiciled in New Zealand, were also competing at the World Champs.
The quartet of Johaana Bates, Adoniah Lewis, Janet Main and Terai Sadler were the 19th seeded team but almost upset both China (12th), going down 11-9, and 5th seed Czech Republic (lost 15-13) on Day one.
Unfortunately ‘The Cooks’ ran out of gas on Day 2 going down heavily to France (4th) 21-6 and Romania (13th) 14-5 to also exit the competition after pool play.
The Cook Islands foursome is well known in New Zealand basketball circles. Sadler was a member of the Canterbury Wildcats WBC title winning team in 2016 and Main won the title with Oceana Gold Rush Otago in 2015.
Lewis, a former Waitakere Lady Rangers guard played most recently for Werribee Devils in Melbourne whilst Bates, a former Rotorua age group rep, is now living in Japan.