After a ten points defeat to Montenegro earlier in the week at the Four Nations Tournament in Xilinhot, China, the Tall Ferns were able to turn the tables on their European opponents winning 79-76 on Friday night.
The Tall Ferns trailed 39-31 at half time and were still in arrears 54-50 with ten minutes to play. However a strong closing quarter (29-22) took the Kiwis to their second victory at the tournament.
The forward duo of Penina Davidson and Kalani Purcell were outstanding for the Ferns. Davidson led the scoring effort with 17 points (6/10 FG) and also snared 8 rebounds. Purcell continued her strong form with a double double of 16 points and 13 rebounds as well as dishing 5 assists.
Guards Micaela Cocks (16 points) and Toni Edmondson (11 points) were also prominent in a fine team effort that pleased coach Kennedy Kereama.
"Tonight was a game of runs and we made a number of them. What was pleasing was our resilience and poise down the stretch. We were defensively good and smart enough to go at the right players in the final quarter. Our penetration in the half court and fast break basketball was as good as it has ever been and we have to build on this."
The Tall Ferns won the rebounding count 42-26 but still gave up 21 rebounds, an area that worries Kereama, "There are still concerns with our turnover rate but we did improve on our last game."
Collectively the team was solid at the free throw line converting 23 from 29 attempts and had multiple scorers. "We had a spread of contributors at both ends of the court and have built a solid platform for our game against the Czech Republic. A win would give us a chance of second place at the tournament," said Kereama.
Tall Ferns 79 - Davidson 17, Purcell 16, Cocks 16, Edmondson 11, Beck 7, Paalvast 5, Hunter 4, Bygate 2, Wallbutton 1
The Tall Ferns final game in China is on Saturday against Czech Republic (7.30pm local time/11.30pm NZ time).
The 2016 Tour Schedule is:
- 14-16 May - Four Nations Tournament v China, Czech Republic and Montenegro in Hengyang, Hunan Province, China.
- 19-21 May - Four Nations Tournament v China, Czech Republic and Montenegro in Xilinhot, Inner Mongolia, China.
- 23-28 May - Latvia Friendlies, Riga, Latvia
- 29 May - 4 June - Four Nations Tournament v Belarus, Japan and Turkey in Minsk, Belarus.
- 5-9 June - Spain Friendlies in Asturias, Spain.
- 13-19 June - Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Nantes, France
Olympic Qualifying Tournament
The Tall Ferns will assemble alongside 12 other nations at the womens qualifying tournament in Nantes, France: Spain, France, Belarus, Turkey (Europe); Cuba, Argentina, Venezuela (Americas); Cameroon, Nigeria (Africa), China, South Korea (Asia); and New Zealand (Oceania). Only the top five will earn a place in Rio.
New Zealand has been drawn with heavyweights France (4 in the world) and Cuba (13) in their pool, with the top two teams from each pool of three qualifying for the quarterfinals. New Zealands
of 22 in the world has them clearly ranked as underdogs.
More information on the FIBA Womens Qualifying Tournament: