Basketball: Tall Blacks beat China

Kirk Penney scored 20 points. Photo / Getty Images
Kirk Penney scored 20 points. Photo / Getty Images

The New Zealand men's basketball team have pulled of a top win over China in the Stankovic Cup tournament at Beijing with a 89-69 upset over the tournament hosts.

A day after losing to a Russian team comprising university students, the Tall Blacks turned around their fortunes in style overnight (NZT) to inflict a sixth successive defeat on the Chinese.

China, ranked 10th in the world compared to New Zealand's 18th, were well served early on by NBA player Yi Jianlian although Mika Vukona and BJ Anthony, who finished with 19 points, provided a physical challenge which the home team were not always happy with.

Tall Blacks assistant coach Chris Tupu described the effort as a complete performance.

"It was fantastic defence and a fantastic step up from the night before," he said.

"We kept the pressure on and everyone stepped up. We got 25 assists to their eight.

"Against a guy like Yi it's not easy to mark him, but we put the clamps on him in the second half. He was shooting six from eight in the first for field goals and only one in the second for seven from 13."

Seventeen-year-old newcomer Isaac Fotu was given valuable minutes on court and had time to nail a long-distance two-pointer shot to grab his first points in international basketball.

"He had six minutes and got his first points. He came off the court with a big smile on his face," Tupu said.

New Zealand's next match is against Angola.

The Tall Blacks started the game well with Vukona scoring six points by himself compared to China's two points.

At the end of the first quarter the Tall Blacks were ahead 25-19 and scoring another 20 to China's 19 to finish 45-38 ahead by halftime.

The third quarter was a low scoring affair before New Zealand outscored their opponents 29-17 in the last quarter.

Guard Kirk Penney led the way with 20 points, with Anthony contributing 19 and Vukona 10.

Results:-

New Zealand 89 (Kirk Penney 20, BJ Anthony 19, Mika Vukona 10) China 69. Halftime: 45-38.

- NZPA

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