The Junior Tall Blacks (JTB’s) followed the Junior Tall Ferns into the final of the FIBA Under 18 Oceania Championships with a convincing win against Guam, 116-54, in Fiji on Friday evening.
The JTB’s utilised their height advantage with Sam Waardenburg (21 points and 5 rebounds in just 14 minutes) and 7 footer Callum McRae, a double double of 12 points and 10 rebounds, leading the way.
JTB’s head coach Daryl Cartwright believed that Guam would be a good challenge as they have structure in place at both ends of the floor.
“They have some very quick guards who can handle the ball well, so that will test our ability to sit down and stay in front of our man on the defensive end.
We do have a significant size advantage and that is where we will look to assert our dominance by getting the ball inside and controlling the rebounds at both ends of the floor,” he added
That size, in the form of Waardenburg, dominated early proceedings scoring 12 points in the opening 5 minutes as the JTB’s forged a 16-0 lead.
Guam was next to score but a couple of transition baskets from Taki Fahrensohn and a triple from Hamish McDonald capped a fine 31-9 opening frame from New Zealand.
Centre McRae (8 points in the second period) emphasised the JTB’s inside dominance with a pair of baskets and when Tobias Cameron converted a breakaway dunk from a Josh Aitcheson steal Guam needed a timeout trailing 43-15.
Active New Zealand defence made scoring opportunities few and far between for Guam. The defence also fuelled open looks in transition, Flynn Cameron landing a triple and a lay-up as the JTB’s led 57-19 at half-time. Waardenburg led all scorers with 17 points at the break.
Despite a Quinn Clinton three Guam had the better of the opening minutes of the second half scoring 13 points in less than three minutes. Taane Samuel settled the JTB’s with a pair of baskets as did a Fahrensohn dunk after a Flynn Cameron steal – 76 to 34 in favour of New Zealand five minutes into the third.
Samson Aruwa scored off a Dan Fotu assist, then twice more after corralling offensive rebounds. Isaac Letoa scored a brace of baskets to end an entertaining third with the JTF’s ahead 93-40.
Coach Cartwright was able to rotate his squad in the fourth quarter ahead of the final 24 hours later.
Final Score; Junior Tall Blacks 116 Guam 54
Scorers – Waardenburg 21, Clinton 15, McRae 12/10r, Aruwa 12, Fahrensohn 10, T Cameron 9/5a, Samuel 8, Aitcheson 8, F Cameron 7, Letoa 6/5a, Fotu 4, McDonald 4
The JTB’s will play Australia, 121-30 victors against New Caledonia in the other semi-final, in the final at 7.00pm on Saturday. The winners of the tournament will earn a place at the FIBA Under 19 World Cup in Cairo next year.