New Zealand slipped to their second loss at the Fiba U17 World Cup in Argentina going down 80-56 against Montenegro in Rosario. Once again the shooting ability of the teams was a major difference with the Kiwis making just 2 from 16 threes (13%) compared with 14 from 37 (38%) from their opponents.
A two-handed ‘Hail-Mary’ from inside his own half by Tom Cowie, as the half-time buzzer sounded, capped an improved second quarter performance from the Kiwis after they had been upstaged by Montenegro in the opening minutes falling 27-11 behind.
Strong work from Anzac Rissetto, Mitch Dance and Marvin Williams-Dunn meant New Zealand entered the changing rooms at half time facing a deficit reduced to 38-25.
Dance (14 points, 8 rebounds), harshly treated by the referees, was forced to the bench in the third quarter after called for a touchy fourth foul as Montenegro maintained their advantage. Despite points in the paint from Rissetto the Kiwis trailed 59-37 at the three-quarter mark.
To their credit New Zealand stuck to the task not allowing the Montenegro lead to blow out. Rissetto (13 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks was a tower of strength in the paint, Jake McKinlay (8 points and 6 rebounds) and Williams-Dunn (10 points and 4 assists) were also prominent.
The Kiwis, left to rue what could have been but for missed opportunities from the foul line and beyond the arc, now have a day off before meeting Canada. The Canadians are one of the favourites at the tournament so it doesn’t get any easier. That last pool game tips-off early on Wednesday morning (NZ time).
New Zealand 56 – M Dance 14, A Rissetto 13, M Williams-Dunn 10, J McKinlay 8, S Broughton 4, T Cowie 3, H Dixon 2, S Jenkins 2