An inexperienced Tall Blacks side have gone down 79-67 to hosts China in a hard-fought contest at Yinchuan in the Ningxia province.
New Zealand, with an average age of just under 24, led 23-20 after the opening quarter, before slipping away over the closing stages.
The Tall Blacks conceded the final period 20-12 to the home side, who are preparing to defend their Asian title.
By contrast, the Chinese were led by local legend Wang Zhizhi, a former NBA player who played at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Wang topscored for China with 13 points.