The New Zealand women's basketball side have opened their Olympic qualifying tournament in Turkey with a 70-51 defeat to the Czech Republic this morning (NZT).

The first quarter proved the Tall Ferns' undoing, as they fell behind 20-6. They began to find some momentum in the second period but, by then, had given themselves too much to do to threaten their more-fancied opponents. The final two quarters were shared (10-10 and 16-16) as both sides used their benches.

In the final analysis, the Kiwis simply didn't shoot well enough (25 per cent from the field and 0/9 three-pointers) to stay in contention but they would have been encouraged by their second-half performance ahead of their must-win encounter with the 12th-ranked Argentina tomorrow.

Forward Jillian Harmon was the best of the Ferns with nine points and seven rebounds.


New Zealand, who are ranked 18th in the world, must finish in the top five to qualify for London.

Czech Republic 70 (Eve Viteckova 22, Petra Kulichova 13, Ilona Burgrova 12) New Zealand 51 (Jillian Harmon 9, Natalie Taylor 7, Lisa Wallbutton 7). HT: 44-25.