It was medal games for three of our four international teams on Saturday.
Both the Men’s and Women’s teams faced Australia in the Gold Medal Games at the FIBA Oceania Champs in Guam but both had to settle for second place.
The women were competitive throughout going down 81-60 whilst the Men, seriously outsized lost 93-55.
Only Oscar Oswald, named in the Tournament Five, and Kruz Perrott-Hunt provided the Aussies with any problems. Oswald finished with 20 points and 6 rebounds on an impressive 8 from 10 shooting night. Perrott-Hunt landed 5 from 11 attempts on his way to 12 points.
The Kiwis were smashed 49-33 on the boards and were also forced into 27 turnovers.
Meanwhile in Perth the U16 Boys went down 95-83 against Victoria Metro in the bronze medal game at the U16 Australian Championships. The Girls reversed the losing trend finishing a creditable fifth after beating New South Wales Country 73-54.
In Guam the Women made a promising start shading the first quarter 23-2
Hutt Valley’s Leah Mafua splashed a couple of shots early in the second but Australia were ahead 30-27 at the mid point of the second.
Charlisse Leger-Walker scored 5 straight points to tie things up at 32 each but Australia scored the last seven points in the half to lead 39-32 at the main break.
Charlotte Whittaker scored inside as did Tsubasa Nisbet but Australia stretched its lead to double figures and beyond – 50-38 at which point coach Jody Cameron called a timeout.
Leger-Walker scored in transition but the momentum was with Australia and despite scores from Lauryn Hippolite and Nisbet led 59-44 at three-quarter time.
The NZ scoring ground to a halt in the early stages of the fourth and they soon found themselves twenty points adrift.
To their credit NZ didn’t allow the lead to blow out but giving up 21 offensive rebounds and only converting 2 from 21 triples will be stats the coaching staff will look to address before the Asian Champs next year.
Whittaker (14pts), Mafua (11pts/6rebs) and Leger-Walker (21pts/5rebs/4assists) were outstanding in a losing cause.
The Under 16 Boys trailed Victoria Metro 45-39 at half time – the dependable Mac Stodart with 15 points and Harry Payne on 10 points.
NZ shaded the third by a basket – 69-65 with ten minutes to play -Stodart playing a sterling hand with 14 points in the period.
The Vics took the game away from NZ with a 7-0 burst to open the fourth and were never threatened thereafter.
Stodart finished an impressive tournament with a game high 35 points (he averaged 17.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game). Payne was next best with 16 points at 18 points per outing. Reihana Maxwell-Topia had 9 points in this one and averaged 7.3 points and 9.1 rebounds while point guard Ezrah Vaigafa threatened a triple double with 8 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists.
Coach Cameron commented, “ I was pleased with the intensity and commitment our girls played with tonight. We had a few calls not go our way, however we missed a lot of shots and struggled to keep them of the defensive boards in the second half. We’ll look forward to preparing for the FIBA U18 Asian Champs next year.”
The Girls led New South Wales Country 31-29 at the interval with eight players on the scoresheet, captain Ashlee Strawbridge the most on 6 points.
They then proceeded to dominate the third stanza 22-11 – Emme Shearer and Caitlin O’Connell scoring all but three of the points between them.
The Kiwis didn’t allow NSW a sniff in the final period and finished the tournament strongly after being knocked out at the quarter-final stage.
Shearer led all scorers with 20 points (averaged 12 points per game), O’Connell had 11 points and Parris Mason 10 points.
Waita Jennings was strong with 9 points, 4 rebounds and 8 assists with the teams leading rebounders Jess Moors (6 rebs) and Jazz Kailahi-Fulu (8pts/9rebs) also to the fore.