On the back of a dominant fourth quarter display the New Zealand Tall Ferns defeated Japan 85-74 to win the William Jones Cup in Taiwan on Sunday.
The win, New Zealand’s first title in the 40th edition of the William Jones Cup, follows recent successes at the Commonwealth Games (where the team claimed bronze) and the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup where gold was struck.
The Tall Ferns trailed by double figures for most of the second and third periods but outscored the Asian champions 28-12 in the final ten minutes.
The two leading scorers in the tournament Stella Beck and Ashleigh Karaitiana once again led the Kiwi effort with 24 points and 25 points respectively.
Kalani Purcell (9 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals) and Tessa Boagni (14 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assist and 3 steals) also produced telling performances.
Entering the Tournament decider with identical 4-0 records it was Japan that made the better start shading a free scoring opening quarter 24-21 before extending their lead to 46-35 at half-time.
Japan maintained its double figure advantage for most of the third stanza before Beck (5 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals to go with her 24 points) and Karaitiana combined to pull New Zealand within three points (62-59) at three-quarter time - the pair shared twenty points in the period.
The Tall Ferns carried that momentum into the final period as Nicole Ruske, Purcell, Boagni, Beck and Karaitiana all made scores to complete an outstanding performance.
New Zealand 85 – A Karaitiana 25, S Beck 24, T Boagni 14/8r, K Purcell 9/10r, P Davidson 6, N Ruske 5, J Beckley 2
Japan 74 – M Shinozaki 20, U Kadyshajuna 14
In addition to New Zealand (ranked 42nd in the world) the tournament featured South Korea (16th), Chinese Taipei (40th), Chinese Taipei B, India (45th) and Japan, the Asian champions ranked 13th in the world
Only Kalani Purcell remained from the team that won bronze at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April for the upcoming tour. (More on the team selection here).
New Zealand Tall Ferns Team
Stella Beck (Townsville Flames/Formerly St Mary’s College, California)
Jacinta Beckley (Formerly Seattle University)
Brooke Blair (Harbour Breeze/ Rockhampton Cyclones/Formerly Idaho State University)
Tessa Boagni (Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats/Formerly California State University, Northridge)
Penina Davidson (Harbour Breeze/Formerly University of California, Berkeley)
Alyssa Hirawani (Waikato Wizards/Formerly Murray State College)
Ashleigh Karaitiana (Bendigo Spirit)
Kalani Purcell (Melbourne Boomers/South West Metro Pirates)
Akiene-Tera Reed (Harbour Breeze/Virginia Commonwealth University)
Nicole Ruske (Otago Gold Rush)
Tall Ferns Results at William Jones Cup
July 25 v India W 114-39
July 26 v South Korea W 93-74
July 27 v Chinese Taipei W 69-62
July 28 v Chinese Tapei B W 88-66
July 29 v Japan W 85-74
Link to William Jones Cup website for draw and box scores.
For everything Tall Ferns go to the Basketball New Zealand website or follow the team on Facebook and Instagram