It was a double dose of Samoa for New Zealand Under 18 Men and Women in the semi-finals of the FIBA Under 17 Oceania Championships in Guam on Saturday.
The Men were first on the floor and after a tentative first half put their collective feet on the accelerator to win 96-58.
Canterbury guard Max de Geest landed a couple of first quarter threes to help New Zealand to a 22-12 opening stanza lead.
Samoa closed to within five (36-31) late in the second but a three from Palmy North’s Cooper Boyce-Towler in the shadows of half-time gave NZ a 42-34 lead at the interval. De Geest (8 pts) and Kruz Perrott-Hunt (7pts) led the Kiwi scoring effort at the break.
Back to back baskets from Matt O’Connell took NZ out to 54-36 four minutes into the third period. The lead stretched to twenty points when Perrott-Hunt converted from beyond the arc – Isaac Faamausili in transition and Joseph Ahie from the perimeter capped off a fine stretch for NZ ahead 74-42 at three-quarter time.
The final quarter was purely academic as New Zealand prepare for Australia in the Final on Saturday – a place in the 2018 Asia Champs already assured.
De Geest with 19 points (5/9 3PG) led the NZ scoring as Perrott-Hunt O’Connell, Faamausili and Oscar Oswald all made double digit contributions.
The New Zealand Women’s team are also heading to the Asia Champs after defeating Samoa 81-36 in their semi-final.
Samoa led 13-11 after a scrappy, low scoring opening quarter before Lauryn Hippolite and Charlisse-Leger Walker broke the Samoan defensive shackles to forge a 23-15 lead.
Three consecutive Charlotte Whittaker buckets kept NZ in the ascendancy but Samoa were still in the hunt at half-time trailing 35-19. The Cantabrian duo of Hippolite (8pts) and Whittaker (12pts) led the scoring effort at the interval.
Tsubasa Nisbet and Leah Mafua extended the NZ lead and with Whittaker dominating the defensive boards the advantage began to grow – 49-21 at the mid point of the second.
Hippolite landed back to back threes as the Kiwi lead reached alarming proportions for Samoan fans – 60-23 at three-quarter time – no way back for Samoa in the fourth.
Whittaker (22p/11r) and Nisbet (10p/12r) both finished with double doubles while Mafua, Hippolite and Charlisse Leger-Walker made double figure contributions.
Like the Men it will be Australia to play in the final on Saturday.
The New Zealand Boys made a fast start in their semi-final encounter with Queensland South at the U16 Australian State Champs, the Kiwis out to a 51-43 half-time lead – Harry Payne (15pts) and Mac Stodart (13pts) leading the way.
A disappointing third quarter ensued as New Zealand was outscored 20-11 to trail 63-62 at the last break. – Reihana Maxwell-Topia scoring seven of the eleven points.
When NZ slipped 8 points behind three minutes into the final stanza coach Zico Coronel needed a timeout.
Stodart scored after the restart but the boys in black soon slipped ten points behind – the Kiwis looked out of gas.
Stodart and Maxwell-Topia scored on consecutive plays but NZ were still 9 down with three to play.
Sam Jenkins made a three as did Payne – Queensland’s turn for a timeout leading 84-78 with 54 seconds to play.
Queensland converted free throws from the ensuing possession and New Zealand’s quest for a grand-final place was buried going down 87-80.
Payne and Stodart scored 21 points apiece, Maxwell-Topia had a double double of 14 points and 11 rebounds while Ezrah Vaigafa was busy with 10 assists and 5 steals.
A bronze medal game awaits the team on Saturday against Victoria Metro
The Under 16 Girls will play-off for 5th and 6th after defeating Western Australia Metro in the late game on Friday.
NZ were well served by Rotorua’s Waita Jennings who came up with a double double of 18 points and 11 rebounds. Caitlin O’Connell scored 13 points and the J Squad got on the boards again – Jazz Kailahi-Fulu nabbed 10 rebounds (plus 12 points) and Jess Moors secured nine.
They meet NSW Country on Saturday.