The New Zealand’s women’s 3x3 team has stunned the number one seed at the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup to get through pool play.
It wasn’t an easy road to the playoffs for New Zealand. Their opening game was against a very experienced Australian side. The Australians retained two players from the World Cup Qualifying event in Puerto Rico, another who played 3x3 at Asia Cup last year, and a former Opal. In comparison, the New Zealand team of debutants Stella Beck, Nicole Ruske and Tanaka Gapare, along with the experienced Antonia Edmondson, meant the team were still learning to gel. Having never played together previously showed early on as New Zealand struggled to score, but so did the Australians as the Kiwis were strong on defence. The Kiwis succeeded in getting the Aussies into early foul trouble. Gradually, both teams managed to find their scoring in the final minutes, with Antonia Edmondson sinking crucial buckets from behind the arc. But it wasn’t enough as Australia matched it and then some, managing to retain their narrow margin for the win, 17-15.
Game two versus China was even tougher. The New Zealand girls faced a short turn around for this game. They were required to line up and participate in the opening ceremony, while still struggling with recovery to hydrate and recover properly. Head Coach Anthony Corban said they were well aware that China had host country advantage and this was also the hosts first game of the tournament.
“I challenged our group to force the Chinese into defending dribble penetration where, after an indifferent start, we quickly ran six team fouls up on the host,” said Coach Corban.
Strangely the fouls stopped getting called and the Kiwis frustrations rose.
“Our players were physically tired on the court, but refused to lay down and continued to rise to the challenge of defeating the host nation.”
The game went to over time at 14 all. Captain Toni Edmondson took charge of the game scoring two baskets and the win for New Zealand, 16-15.
“All of the squad contributed. Nicole and Tee were a lot better with their contributions in this game. Both are slowly coming to grips with the physicality of 3x3 basketball. Toni and Stella were relentless with their work ethic in this game,” said Corban.
The team now get time to recover while the men’s team of Karl Noyer (Player-coach), Zachary Easthope, Tom Allan and Aaron Bailey-Nowell line up tonight:
21:15 New Zealand men vs Qatar
00:40 New Zealand men vs China
Watch the livestream on the @BasketballNZ facebook page
Tournament website: http://www.fiba.basketball/3x3asiacup