The New Zealand Tall Ferns have made an encouraging start to their defence of the William Jones Cup in Taipei beating the Philippines 106-72 in the opening game of the six-team tournament on Wednesday.
New Zealand were paced by experienced guard Micaela Cocks who scored a game high 21 points (3/4 3PG). The other four starters were also in double figures - Charlisse Leger-Walker shot 6 from 8 from the field plus 4 from 4 from the foul line for 18 points, Stella Beck scored 15, Penina Davidson 14 and Kalani Purcell was at her industrious best adding 7 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 steals to 14 points.
The Philippines were smashed on the boards (37-19) and Tall Ferns Head Coach Guy Molloy would have been delighted with the Kiwis perimeter shooting as they made 12 from 21 threes (57%) with six different players connecting from beyond the arc.
“We had a red hot shooting night – we have been encouraging Kalani to take more threes and her performance tonight (she made 4 from 5 three-point shots) will give her confidence,” said Molloy.
There were other aspects of the Tall Ferns performance that didn’t please the coach, most notably 23 turnovers.
“I said to the team after the game that a good shooting night can act as fools gold because we didn’t play well in other areas. We turned the ball over too often and our defence was sloppy at times, there is certainly room for improvement,” added Molloy.
Purcell was prominent in the early stages as the Tall Ferns opened up a 25-14 lead at quarter time.
The Philippines made a good start to the second period trimming the New Zealand advantage to single figures. However a 17-6 run to close the first half meant the Tall Ferns had a comfortable 59-39 lead at the interval. Ella Fotu, Cocks and Leger Walker each scored 7 points in the second quarter.
The Ferns extended their lead to 25 points in the third period before cruising to victory in the fourth.
Canterbury Spirit forward and Palmerston North Girls High alumna Amy West scored her first international points on debut whilst another rookie, Otago Gold Rush forward Zoe Richards chipped in with 6 points.
Molloy was pleased with the performance of all of his rookies.
“It’s great to have so many debutants on this tour as we look to build our depth. Amy West missed most of the Japan leg with her rolled ankle and it was great for her to get on court tonight. To her credit she has had to pick up everything from sitting on the bench so she obviously has a good basketball IQ.
“Ella Fotu was one of our best defenders, Matangiroa Flavell got a good hit out, Zoe Richards made a three with her first touch and Esra McGoldrick made some nice plays,” enthused Molloy.
New Zealand will face a tougher challenge on Thursday when they take on Korea, ranked18th in the world and Molloy will be looking for an improved performance.
NZ 106 – M Cocks 21, C Leger-Walker 18, S Beck 15, K Purcell 14, P Davidson 14, E Fotu 7, T Boagni 7, Z Richards 6, A West 2, M Flavell 2
Philippines 72– A Bernadino 20, K Hayes 17
William Jones Cup schedule (tip-off times NZT):
24 July New Zealand v Philippines, tip-off 6.00pm | Won 106 - 72
25 July New Zealand v Korea, tip-off 6.00pm
26 July New Zealand v Chinese Taipei B, tip-off 8pm
27 July New Zealand v Chinese Taipei A, tip-off 10pm
28 July New Zealand v Japan, tip-off 8pm
TALL FERNS TEAM
1. Stella Beck (Launceston Tornadoes/Melbourne Boomers)
2. Tessa Boagni (Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats)
3. Micaela Cocks (Townsville Fire)
4. Penina Davidson (Harbour Breeze/Adelaide Lightning)
5. Matangiroa Flavell (Harbour Breeze)*
6. Ella Fotu (Harbour Breeze)*
7. Mary Goulding (Rockhampton Cyclones)*
8. Charlisse Leger-Walker (Waikato Wizards)
9. Esra McGoldrick (McAlpines M10 Mega North Canterbury Spirit / NC State University)*
10.Kalani Purcell (Auckland Dream/Melbourne Boomers)
11.Zoe Richards (AM I FIT Otago Gold Rush/Eckerd College)*
12.Amy West (McAlpines M10 Mega North Canterbury Spirit / Liberty University)*
William Jones Cup schedule and results: http://jonescup.meetagile.com/index.html
Follow the Tall Ferns social media channels: @TallFerns Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Hashtag: #TallFerns