Both the Junior Tall Ferns and China were coming off defeats when they met in Weng'an on Tuesday in the penultimate fixture of the Ferns 12 game tour of China.
Unfortunately the Ferns slipped to a third straight loss to the Chinese FIBA Under 17 World Championships bound team 75-67.
Once again the JTF's were well in the hunt with 10 minutes to play trailing 55-52 but couldn't find enough scoring punch to snatch a win.
Report from Brent Matehaere (Junior Tall Ferns head coach).
Unfortunately, there will be no repeat of two years ago when the JTF's beat China; but the games have all been all within 10 points. At no time have we been out of the contests, which is in marked contrast to the previous tours.
The game started out as a low scoring affair with the score at 3 - 2 after 5 minutes of play. China were the first to get their offense going before the JTF's finally got into their stride finishing the quarter with a flourish ahead 15-14. The second quarter will be one the JTF's will not wish to remember as China went on a 16 -2 run in the last 3 minutes of the period.
It was a gap the JTF's would close to within 3 by the end of the third quarter. In the fourth quarter baskets were traded throughout but it was the locals who got the bounce of the ball down the stretch and the JTF's were unable to pull this one out of the bag.
I have been really happy with the focus and heart that these players have shown on this tour. With only one game remaining we take on the Polish team who beat the Chinese on Monday and ran the USA select team close tonight losing 80-71. Polish coach Rafal Czyszpak will be looking to have his team ready to take us on in the last game in China.
Top scorers were Tiarna Clarke with 16 points (7/13FG) and Nicole Ruske, 13 points (4/7FG) who came off the bench with another strong performance. Ruske and Zara Jillings led the rebounding count with six each.
The game aside, the memories and experiences that the girls have been been exposed to will remain with them forever. Nothing can quite prepare you for a trip to China. The amazing hospitality that is shown, the screaming school students as they try to gain your attention during school visits, the food, the interesting aromas that waft up when you least expect it, the amazing facilities we have the chance to play in and the people that fill them each night. How can the girls comprehend that in a town the size of Christchurch we have the local Police as an escort and officers on every intersection to stop traffic for the buses.
It will be tough when they are home to remember to take their plates from the table, make their beds in the morning, clean up their rooms and find their transport from place to place. I am sure however they are really looking forward to home cooked meals, the comfort of their own beds and a nice crisp autumn morning with the sun warming their faces.