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Junior Tall Blacks oh so close again

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Photo courtesy of Jolene Cartwright

The Anchor Junior Tall Blacks are a little tired of de ja vu, as they lost a third game on the run at the FIBA U19 World Cup after showing great fight and tenacity against higher ranked opponents, this time beaten by Germany 72-65 in the round of 16.

It means the best the young Kiwis can hope for is a ninth-place finish at the tournament, which in itself is a lofty goal for a team having qualified for the first time in their history, but Head Coach Daryl Cartwright is struggling to get over the initial disappointment, knowing the effort that has gone into the campaign.

“It is really gutting, I was kind of lost for words a little in the changing room, you could see it on the guys, their heads were down and they were hurting bad. That is three games in a row now where we have been oh so close but not quite good enough, that margin for error is so small. We struggled to deal with their length and athleticism early and got rattled. But yeah, it hurts, we didn’t want to be in the bottom half of the tournament and after the run we have had, we are gutted.”

That run is not only the three losses on the bounce, but the way they have occurred and the circumstance surrounding them, with the entire team at one point or another having to overcome the effects of an energy sapping stomach illness, to the extent that Cartwright would look up during a halftime team talk and see half the team were in the toilets.

Cartwright was not using that as an excuse though, highlighting his team’s inability to deal with the early German pressure for the loss – despite a brave fightback that brought them back from 21-7 down to make it a one basket game inside the final minute.

“Our care with the basketball wasn’t good enough, their length saw them getting deflections on passes and we were over penetrating and forced into bad shots. They average 6’8” across the floor with their starting lineup and we kept the ball in the hands too much and over dribbled and we were stuttering at the offensive end and they kept piling on the pressure at the other end knocking down shots as well.”

Cartwright has a job to do now to ensure his players regroup and focus on the next task, winning their classification matches knowing that ninth place is well within their capabilities.

“I have been so proud of this team’s effort, it has been huge and we always find a way to come back and give ourselves a chance. We key on the core values of what Tall Blacks basketball is, that never say die. We pride ourselves on our defence and the effort categories like rebounding. That area of our game cannot be faulted. It was just the mental side, patience and poise under pressure. We can say we are not exposed to that level of basketball enough but that is just an excuse.

“We have made adjustments in our game through the tournament, but once again that big hole and not being able to claw it back is gutting, but I am massively proud of our guys and the group, and they can be proud of themselves and so too their families as well.”

The final moments were not without controversy, with the referees awarding Germany an unsportsmanlike foul after contact between two players before the ball was inbound with the Germans leading by just three. Cartwright felt it should have been a no-call.

“I said to the referee, we have fought back and you have kind of decided the game with that call. I thought both players were holding, there was no disadvantage to the Germans and you could have called it both ways so why not let it go and let the players decide it? That would have been much better, the gutting thing is we got the stop but bobbled the rebound out of bounds and gave them the possession.

“There were a number of ‘if only moments’ at the end there, that is gutting for me as a coach but the players are disappointed as well with a call like that, it takes the opportunity away from them to tie the game up with one possession on the clock.”

The team will now rest up for 24 hours before playing Mali on Friday (tip off time TBC) in their first classification match.

Anchor Junior Tall Blacks 65
Samuel 14, Wynyard 14p/ 9r Waardenburg 11p/ 12r, McDonald 6, Letoa 5, T Cameron 4, McWilliam 4, Clinton 3/5a, Aitcheson 2, F Cameron 2

Germany 72
Sanders 15, de Silva 12, Olinde 12

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Women’s Basketball Champs finale begins Thursday

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So who are the teams likely to get their claws into defending champions Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats?

The climax of the WBKC programme begins in Christchurch tomorrow more

 

NZ a win and a loss at FIBA 3×3 World Cup

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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

Karl Noyer looks ahead to 3×3 World Cup

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I managed to have a chat with leading 3×3 New Zealand international Karl Noyer before he headed to France for the FIBA 3×3 World Cup beginning in a couple of days time.

The team also includes fellow Harbour representative Marco Alexander, Taranaki’s Aaron Bailey-Nowell and former Nelson rep Angus Riley now playing at Bryant University in the States.

Read more link

 

Whelan Trophy teams now sorted in Canterbury

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From James Lissaman

Division I in the McDonald’s Whelan Trophy Competition was found, albeit with a negotiated change of teams, as Rangiora and St. Margaret’s mutually decided to switch divisions.

Division I games start next week, and will feature nine teams battling for semi-final spots in August: Ashburton; Burnside; Cashmere; Christchurch Girls’; Kaiapoi; Middleton Grange; Rangiora; Rangi Ruru; St. Andrew’s.

Division II expands, with six teams now competing: Avonside; Ellesmere; Lincoln; Hillmorton; St. Margaret’s; Villa Maria.

Middleton Grange once again proved their dominance, with an 85-58 win over Burnside. Aimee Book lead all scorers with 29p, and had Megan Ellis (18p) and Lauryn Hippolite (16p) join her in double figures for the Gators. Burnside’s Paige Willman led with 21p, while Sila Morris (12p) and Bridie Thompson (10p) also eeked into double figures.

In Division II of the Thompson Trophy, Linwood College and Riccarton just about had another game decided in the final seconds, as a 20 point Linwood lead almost completely vanished, before a few key baskets saw Linwood pull through 84-76. Rhoi Sanchez again scored easily (31p), but it was last week’s hero Tangaroa Faletolu who was impressive all over the court (13p 23r 5a). D’Arby Mcdiarmid-Taingahue also had a double double (14p 10r).

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In Division I Middleton Grange can be proud of the way they are performing without TCU commit Angus McWilliam – just falling to the Dowson Cup holders from Burnside 87-75. Burnside’s sharpshooting duo John Quitiong (25p) and Liam Reekie (22p) did most of the damage, while Isaiah Morris (15p) calmly controlled his team’s offense. For Gators, Ben Carlile-Smith impressed with 28p, and had some nice games form Jed Rea and Joash Castillo, who had eleven points each.

Christ’s College poured it on against St. Bede’s 105-53 – no doubt providing plenty of motivation for the next time these two teams meet. Tom Hughes having another workmanlike game (23p 9r) in the loss.

All Results:

Whelan Trophy

St. Margaret’s 71-59 Avonside Girls’

Christchurch Girls’ 57-48 St. Andrew’s

Kaiapoi 63-60 Rangiora

Middleton Grange 85-58 Burnside

Villa Maria 62-46 Hillmorton

Rangi Ruru 67-59 Ashburton

Cashmere 83-65 Ellesmere

Thompson Division I

Christ’s 105-53 St. Bede’s

Ashburton 95-63 Rangiora

Christchurch Boys’ 77-66 St. Andrew’s

Burnside 87-75 Middleton Grange

(Shirley vs Cashmere scheduled for June 8)

Thompson Division II

Papanui 71-55 Ellesmere

Hillmorton 108-48 Lincoln

Linwood 84-76 Riccarton

Cathedral 131-56 Hornby

St. Thomas 117-62 Kaiapoi

Tall Blacks World Cup Qualifying opponents found

 

 

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The new pathway through Asia to the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup was made clear with the draw of all pools for World Cup qualifying by FIBA overnight New Zealand time, with the Tall Blacks set to face Hong Kong, South Korea and China in Pool A in the first phase of qualifying.

Previously New Zealand has had to emerge out of Oceania if they were to qualify for FIBA World Cup and Olympic Games tournaments, but a change in that pathway now has Oceania included in Asia, with New Zealand and Australia included in the draw made overnight in China.

FIBA’s new qualification process for World Cups and Olympics tips-off in November in the first of six international windows – very similar to the same process utilized by FIFA in World Cup football qualifying. The other windows are scheduled for February, June, August and November in 2018, and February in 2019. Teams will play two games in each window – but not necessarily a home and away.

New Zealand will host South Korea on November 23, backed up just three days later by a game in Hong Kong on November 26. In 2018, they will travel to China on February 23 and South Korea on February 26, then close out the first round of qualifying by hosting Hong Kong on June 28 and China on July 1. The Tall Blacks will also be chasing a medal in the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April in a busy calendar year for the team.

Head Coach Paul Henare is excited at news of the draw, with the format and games becoming very ‘real’ now the initial opponents are identified.

“The first thing to note is we have been drawn in a very good group, China has been the mainstay and powerhouse in Asia for a long time now that is going to be a good battle against a really tough team. South Korea, we had a five-game series with them in our 2014 build-up and outside of our first game when we got after them in Wellington, the series was a cracker and we had some good games against them. Hong Kong are an unknown quality but they have a good pro league and have the population and budget to assemble a competitive team for sure.

“Every game is huge, taking as many points as you can to the second stage will help, but this is totally new for everybody. For us and our programme and our team we are focused on each game in each window and making sure we have the best group possible for each game.”

Henare is also excited about the challenges facing his team, with the international windows not always occurring at optimum times to bring players back from Europe and the USA opening the door for others to step up.

“That will be interesting, the ones who definitely won’t be available will be anyone in the NBA when FIBA windows clash with that season. NBA and the USA college games don’t sit under the FIBA rules where they have to break in those windows, so they are unlikely to be available. But for the likes of Isaac Fotu and others in Europe I imagine they will have to break (as will the Australian NBL) to allow European players to play for their teams so I am hopeful that the likes of Isaac and any others in Europe will be available to us and enable us to have our best possible team.

“I have sat down with a couple of the key players in the Tall Blacks group and have others to catch up with in the weeks ahead. But we must have an eye on what the future looks like and work backwards from the Tokyo Olympics. To have a chance of getting there we must go to the 2019 FIBA World Cup so for me the start of this year and the Asia Cup is about getting to the Olympics in 2020, and to do that we need the best group of players coming together as often as possible.”

Henare is excited at the prospect of playing at home in truly competitive games.

“Already we have locked in a game in November playing at home and then we will come together again at the end of June and early July. While it will be great to sell out all games, the last one is really exciting against China. I can’t recall the last time we hosted a full-strength China team, I can already imagine a sold out Spark Arena with the fans maybe split down the middle, what a night that promises to be.”

The top three teams from each pool will progress to the next round of qualifying, taking their points tally with them. Should they progress, the Tall Blacks will then play a further three countries home and away, with the top three teams plus the best fourth place team from the two pools qualifying for the World Cup.

Asia will ultimately qualify seven teams – in addition to host nation China – for the World Cup, to be contested by an expanded 32 teams from August 31-September 15, 2019 in eight Chinese cities.

Both New Zealand and Australia will also contest the 2017 Asia Cup Tournament, in Lebanon in August.

Venues and specific details for the home games in Asian World Cup qualifying are yet to be confirmed by Basketball New Zealand, but CEO Iain Potter is excited about the prospect of genuine, competitive home games for fans to enjoy.

“We are entering into an exciting new era with the new FIBA World Cup qualifying process, one that brings with it plenty of financial and logistical challenges. But what it does guarantee is the chance to see the Tall Blacks play at home on a regular basis in do or die games with a genuine edge.

“Fans have been largely starved of international games of this nature, the next few years is about to get very busy and exciting for the game, our players and stakeholders, and for those who love to support our Tall Blacks.”

Quality Games open Premier Boys Season

25425372296_a4a645a179_b.jpgAs suggested in the preview last week the 2017 Auckland Secondary Schools Boys Premier competition is expected to be the most competitive in recent seasons. The results from the first round, played on Friday, gave further credence to this prognosis. There were wins for Westlake, Auckland Grammar and St Kentigern but all three games were in the balance until the final minutes.

Zac Fitzgerald’s tenure as Westlake Boys High Prem coach got off to a successful start as his charges put together a strong fourth quarter performance to run out 78-72 victors at Mt Albert Grammar School.

A nervy opening quarter from both sides was edged by MAGS with Cole Pocock draining a deep three to give the hosts a 14-13 advantage.

Early second quarter points from forward Te Akau Pumipi got the home crowd aroused and a banked three from southpaw guard Mandela Baledrokadroka produced more excitement requiring a timeout from coach Fitzgerald to halt a 14-2 MAGS run.

A pair of James Moors triples and a Thabo Manyere jump shot and block stopped the charge as the sky blue lead was cut to 30-25 in the middle of the period.

An athletic drive from Xjanda Luamanuvae-Su’A was answered by a Matt Cairns-Hita triple before a Jonty Vink put back kept MAGS in the ascendancy and they led 42-37 after Su’A and Jackson Port exchanged threes.

Manyere led all scorers at the break with 12 points, Ryan Laumatia the best for a balanced Mt Albert effort with 9 points.

Port knocked down his third triple to open proceedings in the second half but three consecutive baskets from Vink took MAGS to a ten points lead.

Reuben Fitzgerald made a neat floater but Vink’s presence in the paint was causing Westlake headaches and they needed a timeout trailing 52-44 at the mid point of the third.

The timeout produced an exciting ‘Lake’ run closing the quarter with a 13-2 charge initiated by outstanding rim protection from Manyere producing blocks and steals on demand. Westlake ahead 57-54 at the final break.

A frantic spell ensued as the lead changed hands several times but the reintroduction of Manyere changed the game.

The Westlake forward was a defensive juggernaut in the closing stages providing rim protection with rebounds and blocks and finishing with a match winning stats line of 12 points, 11 rebounds, 6 blocks and 5 steals.

James Moors, easing back into action after injury, put Westlake ahead with 2:21 to play and then Reuben Fitzgerald scored in transition off an exquisite Josh Hidalgo pass (72-69).

Moors put the lid on the win as Westlake closed out the game with a 29-18 final quarter surge.

MAGS coach Daryl Cartwright admitted his team were “underdone,” entering the contest but their spirited performance showed that it was not by a great deal.

Score: Mt Albert 72 – Luamanuvae-Su’A 15, Vink 14, Pumipi 11, Baledrokadroka 10. Westlake 78 – Fitzgerald 21, Moors 17, Manyere 12, Port 11

 

Also grabbing a first up Premier Grade win was St Kentigern coach Aaron Young. His newly promoted team had to claw their way back from a 36-31 first half deficit against Kelston Boys playing under new coach Carl Buck.

St Kent’s Kyle Robb and Max Shorter shared 25 of the home team’s first half points but the more balanced scoring of Kelston led by Liam Milne and Shaun Falefa held sway at the half.

Momentum turned in the third quarter won 24-11 by St Kent’s. Zachary Chan initiated the swing with a couple of treys and Robb put a stamp on the stanza – trailing by 5 at the interval St Kent’s entered the final quarter 8 points ahead, 55-47.

Solomon Faapoi and Kale Lawson kept chipping away at the St Kent’s advantage but 8 fourth quarter points from Billy Simpson and some fine assists from Kyle Robb ensured a confidence boosting win for the hosts.

Score: St Kentigern 77 – Shorter 28, Robb 16, Chan 11, Simpson 10. Kelston 71 – Milne 14, Lawson 14, Faapoi 11, To’o Mase 10

 

Also back in Premier grade are Macleans College and they pushed Auckland Grammar all the way before going down 96-85.

It took a 37 points performance from debutant Auckland forward Tom Higgins to see off Macleans for whom Alex Arthur and Blake van Uden combined for 50 points.

Grammar edged an even first quarter 22-21 and despite 12 second quarter points from Sai Kuvelkar held a 43-38 advantage at the interval.

A balanced scoring effort from Grammar in the third (seven players found the basket) extended the lead to 73-59 at three-quarter time.

A high scoring final period followed with both offences in full flow. Arthur and van Uden kept Macleans in contention but Higgins, Anzac Risetto and Elijah Andrews ensured Grammar began the season with a win.

Score: Auckland Grammar 96 –Higgins 37, Andrews 12, Risetto 12, Leroy Brown 10. Macleans College 85 – Arthur 26, van Uden 24, Kuvelkar 18

The fixture between Rangitoto and Rosmini was postponed as Rangitoto are in Croatia attending the Secondary Schools Basketball World Championships.

Senior A Results:

Manurewa HS 64 Western Springs Coll 52

Pakuranga Coll 102 Northcote Coll 72

Avondale Coll 89 Massey HS 59

St Peter’s Coll 98 Liston Coll

Harmon and Lucca lose important game

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Le Mura Lucca are in danger of relinquishing top spot on the Italian League table after suffering a 74-61 defeat at the hands of defending champions Famila Schio on Wednesday night. Lucca lost to Schio in the Italian Cup final last month and a win against their arch rivals would have secured the regular season title for Lucca. However they trailed at every interval in the game falling to just their third league defeat of the season.

Jillian Harmon was forced to spend time on the bench in the second half after picking up a fourth foul but still mustered 20 points, 8 points and a brace of assists in 31 minutes.

The Tall Ferns forward was one of just two Lucca players in double figures on the night.

The top four teams will play each other at the weekend in the final regular season fixtures. Lucca (18-3) will travel to fourth placed San Martino (15-6) whilst Schio (17-4) entertain Venezia who have the same (17-4) win/loss record.

The top three spots are still up for grabs ahead of the play-offs. By my reckoning Lucca hold the head to head over Venezia but not Schio. Therefore they need to topple San Martino at the weekend and hope Venezia can overturn Schio in order to take the number one ranking into the play-offs.

Kenny and ‘Cats’ keep title

Jarrod Kenny was the last Kiwi standing in Australia after Perth Wildcats emphasised their play-off supremacy to sweep Illawarra Hawks 3-0 in the best of five NBL Grand Final series. Perth retained its title with a 95-86 victory on Sunday on the back of a stunning 45 points from import Bryce Cotton. The win extends Perth’s record number of championships to eight.

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Kenny joins a select band of Kiwis that have won two Australian NBL titles. The former Westlake Boys stand out doesn’t produce stunning numbers for the Wildcats, he scored just two points in game three, but he fills his role as back up to captain Damian Martin in style. An unselfish facilitator and resilient defender Kenny is the perfect foil to the ‘Cats’ talisman and has played a significant part in Perth’s success over the past two seasons.

Perth Lynx were unable to duplicate the men’s success as they exited the Women’s National Basketball League play-offs at the semi-final stage in a tie also played on Sunday

Having levelled the three game series in Perth on Friday the Lynx were looking to return to the final having finished runners-up last season. It was not to be as they were defeated 81-63 by Dandenong Rangers.

Tall Ferns guard Toni Edmondson again had the ice cold shooting hand, going zero from four – having shot 2 of 12 on Friday. The Cantabrian did accumulate 6 rebounds but the Lynx will now have to lick their wounds and prepare for the 2017/18 season, as Dandenong go on the face Sydney University Flames in the Grand Final.

Harmon goes down in Italian Cup Final and Abercrombie debuts in Turkey

 

A day after arriving in Turkey Thomas Abercrombie took the court for his new club Demir IBB – which is a lot quicker to write than Demir Insaat Buyukcekmece Basketball club. The Tall Blacks and Breakers swingman shook off some of his jet lag by coming off the bench to score 7 points (3/4FG) in 13 minutes of action but Demir, 13th on the Turkish League ladder, were comfortably beaten by 4th placed Banvit BK 89-65.

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Also beaten at home by higher placed opposition was Zaragoza in the Spanish League. Isaac Fotu produced his third double double of the season and his highest rebound tally – 17 points / 12 rebounds – but it wasn’t enough to prevent Zaragoza going down 99-88 to Baskonia. Zaragoza with a 7-14 record is slipping towards a relegation battle after this latest defeat.

In the Spanish third division Sammic ISB jumped back to the top of the table with a 72-67 victory against Zamorano. Canterbury Rams forward Mike Karena continued his good form with 12 points and 9 rebounds for Sammic that now boast a 16-6 record.

In Italy Le Mura Lucca was defeated by rivals Famila Schio 88-60 in the Italian Women’s Cup Final played in Venice at the weekend.

Lucca trailed by just a point at half-time 31-30 and the same margin at the end of the third (53-52) but with free scoring Tall Ferns forward Jillian Harmon held to just 6 points it was blitzed 35-8 in the last quarter.

The two teams meet again in a fortnight in league action.

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Erin Rooney has averaged 20 minutes a game across her first 7 appearances for Artego Bydgoszcz in the Polish League. Artego are 6-1 since the Cantabrian’s arrival in early January and now sit 5th on the league table with a 13-7 record after their latest victory, a nail biting 85-83 win against close rivals Gorzow Wielkopoiski. Artego dished an impressive 22 assists in the encounter with Rooney contributing 4 of those as well as 4 points.