Aon NZ U18 Boys v Guam
The Guamanians showed tremendous tenacity tonight, on day two of the FIBA Under 17* Oceania Championships in Guam, in a game that felt like it was building into the upset of the tournament.
Guam rattled the Aon New Zealand Under 18 men’s team in the first quarter to lead 19 to 16. Their defence would pressure New Zealand into eight turnovers and almost entirely disrupting their offence early. A mixture of full court man-to-man and three-quarter-court zone presses reaped rewards for Guam, especially with the Kiwi’s sloppy ball maintenance, which would continue into the second quarter.
Guam were consistent with their defensive pressure and their hot shooting from the three point line making 6/11, 54% and 50% from the field for the first half. Leading scorers for New Zealand were Kruz Perrott-Hunt 7 points and Matt O’Connell with 9, but it wasn’t enough to lead, with Guam going into the half time huddle ahead 43 to 42.
At the Start of the second half New Zealand got exactly what they wanted with some key stops defensively and the first three scores in their first three possessions to edge back into the lead 48-43. However when the Kiwi’s would get some momentum and some distance with the score, the Guamanians would always claw it back to within two points, spurred on by the raucous home support.
Despite the partisan spectators, the New Zealanders showed great assertive play on the offensive end from Kruz Perrott-Hunt and Max de Geest, which gave New Zealand some ascendancy early in the fourth quarter, pushing the lead out to 71-61 and some much needed comfort and relief for Head Coach Miles Pearce and his troops.
For the first time in the game Guam failed to mount another comeback and the Kiwis closed out what was great game to have early in the tournament. Yet it showed the Kiwis have some work to do before heading into the playoffs later in the week.
New Zealand 90. Tama Fa’amausili 15 points and 8 rebounds, Tom Higgins 14 points and 12 rebounds, Matt O’Connell 13, and Max de Geest 12 points.
Aon NZ U18 Girls V Tahiti
The Aon New Zealand Under 18 Girls team played without their Captain, Charlisse Leger-Walker, at the FIBA Oceania Under 17* Championships in Guam today. Leger-Walker was stuck down with food poisoning, however Coach Jody Cameron remained confident looking ahead to New Zealand’s second game against Tahiti.
New Zealand started with an early lay up to Olivia O’Neill and continued the defensive pressure resulting in the Tahitians burning a timeout early with the score at 10-1 at the 6.50 mark. Tsubasa Nisbett made her mark early through strong rebounding defensively and offensively. This was backed up by good contributions from all players in the first quarter.
The coaching staff emphasised their expectations around good communication prior to the game and New Zealand’s defence in the first quarter reflected this, however late in the first quarter the Kiwis would find themselves in the penalty and Tahiti found themselves at the free throw line.
New Zealand opened the second quart 33-9, which was immediately upped by Grace Hunter with a strong layup. At 41-13, Coach Cameron used an early time-out, just after the seven minute mark, to remind her players not to get too complacent and focus. Tahiti, looking to change things, went to a 1-2-2 full-court press to unsettle the Kiwi’s, however three quick passes led to a layup for Tsubasa Nisbett at the other end. The Tahitians were forced to go back to man-to-man, yet struggled to contain the kiwi’s who continued to push the ball on defensive rebounds, and were powered by great finishing by Loren Hippolite, Leah Mafua, Aimee Book. Halftime score 65-19.
The start of the second half would see the Tahitians inbound the ball as the Kiwi’s came out of the changing room, yet they were unable to score from that advantage.
New Zealand staged Charlotte Whittaker, Tsubasa Nisbett, Lauren Mafua, Olivia O’Neill and Lauren Hippolite to begin that quarter, but rolled their substitutions in frequently to spread the minutes. New Zealand continued to push the ball on every defensive rebound and turnovers, leading to fast break lay ups. End of quarter score 91-24.
Early in the fourth quarter the Tahitians clawed back a touch of parity with a 6-7 points start. Coach Cameron would call early timeout to settle the girls and that did the trick, New Zealand kept Tahiti scoreless for the remainder of the quarter.
New Zealand 110. Lauren Hippolite and Charlotte Whittaker 16, Tsubasa Nisbett 15 points and 7 rebounds, Grace Hunter 14 points and 6 assists.
*New Zealand definition of age is one year different from FIBA. e.g. We say Under 18 is yet to turn the age of 18, which is what FIBA terms as Under 17.
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