The MBO (maybo) New Zealand Tall Blacks bounced back strong after their first up FIBA World Cup Qualifying loss to Korea by outclassing Hong Kong for a lopsided road win, 133-74, at the Asian Qualifiers.
Both teams were engaged in a high-octane shootout in the first quarter, which ended with hosts Hong Kong trailing, 36-22, but the Tall Blacks shifted into a higher gear in the next quarters. Coach Paul Henare's crew didn't allow the Hong Kongers to keep in-step the rest of the way however, securing their first win of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers.
Playmaker Shea Ili was ultra-efficient in this game, scoring 14 points on top of 8 assists, 5 rebounds, and 6-of-7 field goal shooting. Reuben Te Rangi also dominated with an all-around line of 16 points, 6 boards, 3 assists, 3 steals, 1 block and 4 three-pointers. Hong Kong, for their part, had four players in double-figure scoring led by Duncan Reid's 17.
Jordan Ngatai led all scorers in the game with 18 points on 7 of 11 shooting, including 4 of 6 from long range on a night when the New Zealanders rarely looked like missing, going at an incredible 62% from deep, nailing a total of 20 three pointers.
Henare was able to rotate his roster, with only two players clocking more than 20 minutes as the entire bench took the opportunity to gain vital international experience. Henare described a pleasing night.
“We set about playing to our own standards tonight, while also paying Hong Kong total respect on a big night for them in front of their home fans. It wasn’t a case of us settling for the three’s, I just kept telling the boys to take their shots as they came, and they did a great job in executing.
“We have enjoyed our time here immensely, we have been well hosted by Hong Kong and enjoyed the welcome from the Hong Kong Association and everyone that has been looking after us, we trust we can offer the same in return next June when Hong Kong come to New Zealand.”
Henare said the win was an important one for his team.
“That gets us underway, our first win in FIBA Asia World Cup qualifying, and one that will give the players confidence for our next window in February when we travel to Korea and China. This past week has been one of new challenges and plenty of learnings as we find out feet in this new format and in the Asian zone, the key is to take those lessons and be better prepared for future games, on the road and at home in what is a hugely competitive environment.”
In all the MBO Tall Blacks had seven players in double figures and were never troubled by the outclassed but plucky Hong Kong team, with their home fans never losing voice on a most entertaining night of basketball.
Looking ahead to the second window of the Asian Qualifiers, New Zealand go on the road against China on 23 February 2018 and then on to Korea three days later. China look like the team to beat in this Pool, having defeated Korea 92-81.
MBO New Zealand Tall Blacks 133
Hong Kong 74
Group A - Tests
New Zealand is in Group A for the first window of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, along with China, South Korea and Hong Kong.
The top three will progress and carry points through to next window of qualifying.
• 23 November v South Korea, Wellington (Lost 86-80)
• 26 November v Hong Kong, away (Won 133-74)
• 23 February v China, away
• 26 February v South Korea, away
• 28 June v Hong Kong, NZ. Venue TBA.
• 1 July v China, NZ. Venue TBA.
• Read the longlist of 24 players named
• The meaning of Tu Kaha, the Tall Blacks haka
• Learn more about the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers (Asia Zone).
• Tall Blacks supporters gear can be purchased here.
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