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Tall Ferns News

Taylor and Cocks ensure the Tall Ferns advance to the Commonwealth Games semi-finals.

Taylor and Cocks ensure the Tall Ferns advance to the Commonwealth Games semi-finals.
The Tall Ferns are through to the last four at the Commonwealth Games but it took the two oldest players in the team to secure the 79-63 quarter-final win against a determined Mozambique in Townsville on Tuesday evening.
 
Natalie Taylor, the top scorer in the game, produced 25 points (6/17 3PG) and Micaela Cocks made 19 points (7/14FG) to help set up a semi-final clash with gold medal favourites Australia on Friday.
 
If Cocks, was the go-to player in the first half it was Taylor who sealed the result in the fourth quarter when Mozambique threatened to run down the Kiwis as she made four triples from five attempts in the final six minutes of the game.
 
“Our co-captains Micaela and Natalie led from the front and made timely plays under pressure,” said Tall Ferns Head Coach Guy Molloy. 
 
“We did everything in the third to put the game away but Mozambique, to their credit, still had a push in them. Nat made some big shots in the fourth when we struggled at times with our shot selections and execution.”
 
The pair had strong support from Toni Farnworth (9 points and 7 rebounds) and point guard Jordan Hunter (11 points and 7 assists).
 
It was Hunter that opened the scoring with a triple to initiate a 10-0 opening salvo from New Zealand. A couple of blocks by Josie Stockill underlined the Tall Ferns defensive intentions as Mozambique were kept scoreless for the first four and a half minutes. 
 
The Tall Ferns earned a lot of open looks and although they failed to capitalise still held a useful 18-7 lead at quarter-time.
 
Cocks, a three-time Australian WNBL championship winner with Townsville Fire, looked comfortable in home surrounds, and scored with a reverse lay-up in the opening stages of the second quarter. She then added a transition basket but the Kiwis were not having it all their own way leading 30-17 in the middle of the second.
 
Taylor scored four points in the shadows of half-time but Mozambique, ranked 25th in the world, compared to New Zealand’s 42nd, were still very much in the contest at the interval trailing 41-26.
 
Back to back threes from Hunter necessitated a Mozambique time out with the Kiwis ahead 52-31 three minutes into the third.
 
Mozambique replied with a brace of threes of their own and that forced Tall Ferns head Coach Guy Molloy to call a stoppage as the advantage was trimmed to 54-39.
 
Farnwoth got the Ferns scoring moving again and when the irrepressible Cocks knocked down a triple the Tall Ferns led 61-41 with ten minutes to play and looked as if they might run away with the game.
 
However Mozambique got on a roll early in the fourth and moved to within nine points (63-54).  Every time the Kiwis scored their African opponents responded and with three minutes to play the New Zealand lead was only eight points and a comeback still a possibility.
 
Coach Molloy called for composure – the experience Cocks and Taylor provided just that with an And-1 play and a triple respectively to ease the Kiwi nerves before Hunter and Kalani Purcell scored inside baskets to ensure the trip down to the Gold Coast would be a happy one for the Tall Ferns.
 
“It’s a chance for us to test ourselves against one of the top FIBA ranked teams,” added Molloy when asked about the prospect of facing Australia, the fourth ranked nation in the world, in the semi-final.
 

FINAL

NZ 79 – Taylor 25, Cocks 19/6r, Hunter 11/7a, Farnworth 9/7r, Leger-Walker 4, Purcell 4/5st, Rooney 3, Paalvast 2, Stockill 2
Mozambique 63 – Mafanela 15, Lhavanguane 14
 
The Tall Ferns will now play Australia in the semi-final on Friday, tip-off 11pm (NZT).
 

TV SCHEDULE:

 
Broadcast by Television New Zealand https://www.tvnz.co.nz/shows/commonwealth-games/schedule

 
 Tall Ferns Pool Games (tip-off times all NZT)
•   V Malaysia, 5 April, 11.00pm, WON 86-44
•   V Jamaica, 7 April, 1.30pm, WON 80-49
•   V India, 8 April 7.30pm, WON 90-55

Quarterfinal V Mozambique, 10 April, 8:30pm, WON 79, 63. 


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