Junior Tall Blacks punish New Caledonia

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Hamish McDonald

The Junior Tall Blacks (JTBs) followed up an opening win against Samoa at the FIBA Under 18 Oceania Championships with a second big win defeating New Caledonia 137-22 in their second outing early on Friday.

The game tipped off at 8.00am in Suva and the New Caledonians were caught napping. Flynn Cameron opened the scoring for the JTB’s, a couple of Dan Fotu (he had 7 first quarter points) baskets followed, and with the Kiwis ahead 8-0 after three minutes New Caledonia needed a timeout and a wake up call.

Coach Daryl Cartwright had the luxury of bringing Sam Waardenburg and captain Quinn Clinton off the bench and both found the hoop as the JTB’s forged a commanding lead. Tobias Cameron landed the JTB’s only three of the period but with a quarter time lead of 35-0 it was of little consequence.

A spinning drive from Tobias Cameron opened the second quarter scoring as the JTF’s continued to dominate the plucky New Caledonians. Back to back threes from Hamish McDonald and Flynn Cameron took the JTB’s score past fifty, a one sided opening half ending with the Kiwis 67-2 ahead. Waardenburg (17 points) and McDonald (11 points) led the first half scoring effort.

New Caledonia emerged from the break with fresh energy and scored a couple of neat baskets but the response was immediate from the JTB’s as Waardenburg, Callum McRae and Josh Aitcheson rattled in points. The third ended with a McDonald basket and the JTB’s 106-12 to the good.

The impressive Flynn Cameron (9pts, 5rebs, 2a, 6st, 1bl) began the final stanza with a block and an assist for a Taane Samuel score but coach Cartwright was unhappy with some sloppy play and called a timeout two minutes into the period. The JTB’s continued to pile on the points and head for semi-final action in good heart after logging their second win with a margin in excess of 100 points.

Waardenburg (29pts/10rebs), Clinton (22pts) and Fotu (17pts/8rebs) led the scoring but it was very much a team effort with a combined 27 assists logged.

Point guards Flynn Cameron and Isaac Letoa combined for 12 steals as the team amassed 33 in the game. 15 turnovers may be a few too many and just 6 threes from 25 attempts at 24% may need some improvement but the JTB’s will enjoy a rest day on Thursday before semi-final action on Friday.

The winners of the tournament will earn a place at the FIBA Under 19 World Cup in Cairo next year.

Final score: New Zealand 137 New Caledonia 22

Scorers for NZ – Waardenburg 29, Clinton 22, Fotu 17, T Cameron 14, McDonald 13, Aitcheson 11, Samuel 9, F Cameron 9, Letoa 5, McRae 4, Farensohn 4, Aruwa DNP

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