Basketball: Kiwis on the Road Mon Mar 21

By Mike Lacey

Micaela Cocks during the international basketball match against Japan. Photo / Getty Images
Micaela Cocks during the international basketball match against Japan. Photo / Getty Images

The headline makers in this week's roundup of New Zealand basketball players overseas are Jack Salt, Kalani Purcell and in particular Micaela Cocks.

Cocks has accomplished something very few New Zealand basketball players have achieved in overseas competition, men or women. Not only did she win a back-to-back championship but she was also walked away with the Grand Final MVP award.

Townsville Fire entered game two of the best of three Australian WNBL Grand Final series with a 1-0 advantage courtesy of a 73-57 victory in Perth last weekend and secured the title with an 80-70 triumph on their home court.

The former North Harbour point guard scored 13 points at a terrific clip - 4 from 7 shots including all three attempts from beyond the arc - and added 3 rebounds and 3 assists. These numbers, added to her 15 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists in the first game, earned Cocks the Rachel Sporn medal much to her surprise.

"It feels good to get this award but I wasn't expecting it at all and I just went into the games trying to focus on my defence. It feels amazing and especially to be back-to-back champions, it's hard thing to do and we did it," she said.

Game two was a carbon copy of the first as the Lynx entered the final quarter of the game holding a narrow lead - 57-61 in this one - but struggled to score against the lock down defence employed by the defending champions. In game one Perth was outscored 28-7 in the final period and in game two it was 23-9 as Townsville made the most of home advantage to secure a second championship in as many years.

Fellow international Chevannah Paalvast didn't get on the court for Townsville in game two whilst Toni Edmondson battled hard for Perth Lynx finishing with three points, two points and four assists.

American College - Men

On Friday Jack Salt joined a small band of New Zealand players who have participated in the NCAA tournament. Salt scored 3 points as Virginia Cavaliers easily disposed of Hampton University, 81-45, in the first round but wasn't required on Sunday as Virginia eventually took care of Butler 77-69.

Virginia now moves on to the tournament's 'Sweet Sixteen' for the second time in three years. They will take on Iowa State on Friday in Chicago.

US College - Women

Like Salt, Kalani Purcell also tasted her first NCAA Tournament action, but unfortunately Brigham Young University-Provo Cougars fell in the first round going out 78-69 to Missouri.

Trailing 60-49 at three quarter time the Cougars made a terrific effort in the fourth quarter getting within two points 66-64 with 2:19 to play. Unfortunately that was as close as it got for BYU as Missouri hung on to advance to round two.

As she has been all season Purcell was at he heart of the BYU effort reeling off yet another impressive stats line of 19 points (7/10FG), 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals.

Europe -Men

In the British Basketball League the Plymouth Raiders emerged from a weekend double header with a win and a loss. Plymouth travelled to third placed Worcester Wolves on Friday and was defeated 77-70. Duane Bailey had a team high 10 rebounds for the Raiders in addition to 6 points, 4 assists, a steal and a block.

On Sunday the Raiders entertained Bristol Flyers and made the most of home court advantage winning 91-72 and with the victory improve to 12-16, still one place inside the top eight on the BBL ladder.

Bailey fouled out in 23 minutes against the Flyers but still contributed 10 points and 7 rebounds.

A strong fourth quarter (20-10) helped propel Zaragoza to a 76-64 home win in Liga Endesa. Isaac Fotu played 21 minutes, as Zaragoza remains 14th on the Spanish League standings with an 8-16 win-loss record.

Rob Loe, easing back towards full fitness, had 8 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists in 14 minutes as Limburg United went down 91-82 at Alstar. Limburg (12-8) stays fourth on the Belgium League table.

Europe - Women

Le Mura Lucca (22-2) still hold on to top spot in the Italian Serie A despite losing 68-66 to second on the table Familia Schio (20-3) on Sunday. Lucca's twelve game winning streak was ended by their nearest rivals in a tight and absorbing contest. The scores were tied at 66 apiece but a controversial turnover call allowed Schio possession with 20 seconds on the clock. The defending champions made the go ahead basket with just 6 seconds to play and held on to gain a valuable away win to solidify their second place on the standings.

Tall Fern Jillian Harmon scored 16 points for Lucca in the defeat.

- NZ Herald

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