The New Zealand men’s team have finished their first day at the FIBA 3×3 World Cup with one win and one loss.
Head Coach Anthony Corban said this first day of the tournament was a tough ask due to the heat in Nantes, with temperatures soaring to over 30 degrees on court. Corban said the conditions suited their opposition – 13th ranked Indonesia and 20th ranked South Korea – with both teams from the Asian Conference being well conditioned to the heat.
“We started slowly against Indonesia and that proved costly. As the game rolled along the heat and humidity hit us hard. We gave up five two-point shots uncontested, which was 10 of their 15 points. From there, we were playing catch up for the rest of the game and managed to close it up to 12 all with 90 seconds to go. We were down two with a minute left, but broke away from our pre-game plan and sets. We had Indonesia in the two free throw penalty, but persisted with taking outside shots as opposed to attacking the rim off the dribble. This was a game we should have won, but as a group we only have ourselves to blame,” said Corban.
Eventually the clock ran down and Indonesia won, 15 – 12.
The Kiwis were determined to tidy their play after that disappointing loss and refocused for game two against South Korea, which was scheduled only 40 minutes after their first game defeat.
“We played tired. The heat and humidity was again a telling factor, but our group dug deep and refused to let this one slip.
“This was a game with plenty of physicality on and off the ball. We had South Korea in the 7 and 10 free throw penalty. Down the stretch we missed four key free throws, that meant we had to go to overtime to close this game out.”
Corban added there was far too much on and off the ball fouling and niggle that he wasn’t happy with, particularly for what is now and Olympic sport.
“My players did well to control themselves with that poor discipline. I was led to believe the three second rule was going to be heavily policed too, but it wasn’t, and that played right into the hands of the big man from South Korea.”
That wasn’t enough for the Korean’s though, with the Kiwis managing to run down the clock in front, eventually winning 15-13.
Corban says they will rest up with a recovery day now, which will comprise of a light gym session, shooting and a bit of sightseeing for the players. There will be no rest for Corban though, with his afternoon set for reviewing game film and looking for a way to unsettle The Netherlands (5) and USA (4), two heavy weight teams which a reputation of sliding into the playoffs with ease.
New Zealand play the United States early tomorrow morning (19 June at 00:40) and the Netherlands (19 June 02:10). Both games will be livestreamed here: https://www.youtube.com/fiba3x3a