For the briefest of moments, the Junior Tall Blacks once more dreamed of upsetting their illustrious adversaries in game three of the FIBA Oceania U19 Championships at Porirua last night.
Just before halftime, Wellington's Tom Vodanovich banked a three-pointer to bring his team back from a 10-point deficit and into a 43-42 lead.
But that hope faded over five long, scoreless minutes in the third quarter, as the Australian Emus ran away to 93-60 and take the series en route to next year's world championships in the Czech Republic.
Emu forward Dane Pineau led all scorers with 18 points, while guard Mirko Djeric put on 15 for the Aussies. For the Kiwis, Andrew Kennerley scored 12 points.
After allowing the Emus to get away early the night before, the JTBs initially did a better job of containing their rivals. Sure, they leapt out to an 11-4 advantage and extended that to double figures late in the opening period, but that was as big as it got.
The Aussies were shooting very accurately - 67 per cent from the field midway through the second quarter - but a three-pointer from JTB guard Will Soonalole as the first stanza ended meant the deficit was only 20-26.
While that margin stretched back out in the next period, there was a turn of the tables as New Zealand took over midway through. All momentum switched to the Kiwis - their man-to-man defence stopped their opponents dead in their tracks and they were able to put on a little run of their own.
In fact, when Vodanovich slotted his trey, the Kiwis had reeled off 11 straight points and got their noses in front. Only a desperate fall-away baseline heave from forward Michael Rowley had the Emus up 46-44 at the break.
New Zealand were doing some very good things on the stats sheet, keeping their opponents off the offensive boards, forcing more turnovers and after managing only 11 assists in total the night before, they already had 13. Captain Reuben Te Rangi, who had 26 points in game two, only scored three in the first 40 minutes yesterday, but found his team-mates for six assists.
And then, the dream was over.
Australia came out of the locker room and poured on 15 straight points, most from Pineau. Te Rangi hobbled off early, but returned to break a drought that had lasted more than five minutes.
But Djeric immediately responded with his third trey and the margin was suddenly 20 points. When Fabijan Krslovic connected from long range on the buzzer, the Emus led 74-49 entering the final straight.
In the final quarter the margin grew beyond 30 points and that New Zealand lead, which lasted for all of 10 seconds, seemed a very long time ago.
Junior Tall Blacks 60 (Andrew Kennerley 12, Ana Haku 10) Australian Emus 93 FT
HT 44-46 (24-20)
Q3 49-74 (5-28)
FT 60-93 (11-19)