Despite the inexperienced New Zealand Tall Ferns team losing all three games in Japan last weekend the team are upbeat about their chances at the William Jones Cup beginning on Wednesday.
The Tall Ferns lost 98-48 to Japan in a closed-door friendly international in Tokyo on Friday and were then defeated 99-66 by top club side Fijitsu Redwave in the second game twenty four hours later.
Tall Ferns Head Coach Guy Molloy explained, “The result was not surprising since we only met as a team two days before the first game. There were many positives to our play and my expectation was that we will get better every day we are together.”
On Sunday, as Molloy predicted, the team played much better in their second game against the Fiba World Cup bound Japanese national team.
“Despite losing 97-64 we played our best game today,” said Molloy.
"It was a really pleasing game to build momentum ahead of the William Jones Cup. Despite the scoreline, we defended much better but the Japanese are such good shooters and they hit many big threes with the shot clock running down.
“In offense, we executed much better. The scoreline would have looked better had we not missed 15 free throws! But the girls have been thrown in the deep end against such amazing competition early and we can only benefit for it.
“Standouts on Sunday were Stella Beck, Ash Karatiana, Penina Davidson and Kalani Purcell."
“We will take that lesson away with us as we continue preparation for the William Jones Cup in Taiwan later in the week," Molloy added.
It will be the 40th edition of the William Jones Cup. In addition to New Zealand (ranked 42nd in the world) the tournament will feature Korea (16th), Chinese Taipei (40th), Chinese Taipei B and India (45th) and of course Japan, the Asian champions ranked 13th in the world.
New Zealand will open their Cup challenge against India on Wednesday (tip-off 7pm NZ time).
Only Kalani Purcell remains from the team that won bronze at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April for the upcoming tour. (More on the team selection here).
The New Zealand team also includes four players making their first appearances in the black singlet – Australian based guard Ashleigh Karaitiana, Waikato Wizards combo guard Alyssa Hirawani, Otago Gold Rush shooting guard Nicole Ruske and Harbour and Virginia Commonwealth University wing Tera-Akiene Reed.
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 CanterburyWildcats/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)
Tera-Akiene Reed (Harbour Breeze/Virginia Commonwealth University)
Nicole Ruske (Otago Gold Rush)
Tall Ferns Schedule at William Jones Cup
July 25 v India
July 26 v Korea
July 27 v Chinese Taipei A
July 28 v Chinese Taipei B
July 29 v Japan
For information on the William Jones Cup click here.
It is unclear at this stage if the games will be livestreamed.
For everything Tall Ferns go to the Basketball New Zealand website or follow the team on Facebook and Instagram