There were more good results for the New Zealand age group teams playing abroad on Wednesday as the Under 16 Boys gained the distinction of ending pool play as top dogs and both U18 teams eased into the semi-finals.
We are used to classing ourselves as underdogs on the international stage due to our relatively small population.
However on Day 3 of the 2017 Fiba Under 17 Oceania Championships in Guam the New Zealand Women’s team could regard themselves as big shots and certainly favourites.
They faced Palau and I have to confess I had no idea where in the Pacific this tiny nation is located. A quick search on Google Maps and you find Palau nearer the Philippines than any of its major Oceania neighbours.
Boasting a population of just 27,000 – approximately the same as Levin – the Palauans, not surprisingly, were no match for the Kiwis outclassed 135-8.
Thirty five steals attained by New Zealand emphasized the gulf in ability as seven players helped themselves to double digit scores led by Wellingtonian Lawrin Tipene (26pts), Cantabrian Tsubasa Nisbet (21pts) and Harbours Keeley Tini (20pts).
The win means the team finished pool play with a 3-0 record and advance to a semi-final match up with Samoa on Friday.
The Men also advanced to a semi-final encounter with Samoa after thumping the Marshall Islands 125-33. The Marshall Islands are big compared with Palau having a population as large as Whangerai!!
Canterbury guard Max de Geest led the way with 19 points and others to make double figure contributions were Joseph Ahie (15pts), Kruz Perrott-Hunt (13pts), Taiaroa Flavell (13pts), Matt O’Connell (11pts) and Tom Higgins (10pts).
Both teams have a day off on Thursday.
The NZ Under 16 Girls had a win and a loss on Day 4 of the Australian state Champs in Perth. In the morning they defeated Northern Territory 79-49 but in the later game went down in overtime – 75-69 against South Australia Metro.
Mid Canterbury’s Sophie Adams scored 15 points and Waikato’s Dominique Stephens 14 points to lead the scoring against NT.
All 10 players featured in the scoring column as coach Natalie Visger shared out the court time mindful that the team faced a more challenging opponent in the shape of South Australia Metro later in the day.
That decision proved to be sound as an overtime encounter eventuated. It was close throughout but the Kiwis were outscored 14-8 in the extra five minutes after the scores were locked 61 apiece in regulation.
Emme Shearer led all scorers with 21 points, supported by Stephens and Waita Jennings with 11 points each.
The double J’s led the rebounding count – Jess Moors corralled ten and Jazz Kailahi-Fulu eleven.
The NZ Girls finished fourth in Pool B with a 3-3 record.
Also in a late game the NZ Boys finished top of Pool B with a 5-1 record after comfortably beating Australia Capital Territories 82-54.
Coach Zico Coronel was able to put some of his leading lights on an easy workload allowing Robert Coman to grab extra minutes and lead the team with 18 points. Taine Murray added 16 points with Cian Emery and Sam Jenkins making a dozen points each.