The Tall Blacks have fallen just short against Lithuania in their second match at the Kunshan international tournament in China.
New Zealand lost 67-66 after missing a shot to win on the buzzer.
With 8 seconds to play Lithuania went to the line with the scores tied at 66, they made the first, New Zealand rebounded the second and Shea Ili hared off up court, driving into the paint and Lithuanian traffic, only to see his effort come back off the rim as the buzzer sounded, cruelly denying the Tall Blacks a memorable win.
Ili scored a game high 20 points for the Tall Blacks.
It was a vast improvement for the side following a heavy defeat to China the previous night.
Head Coach Paul Henare was a mix of emotions after the game, citing how proud he was of the way his team learned so many of their lessons from the night before.
"We are trying to encourage good habits and one of those is 'don't get used to a losing mentality. So for us, awesome improvement and really proud of the guys for that and that is what we will focus on. But we also have to realize that every time we step on the floor, we are after a result."
The Tall Blacks will round out the Kunshan International Championship against unbeaten Angola tonight, with the Africans defeating China in the early game tonight.
Tall Blacks 66
Ili 20, Hunter 13, Te Rangi 7
Evaldas 14, Donatas Taro 13, Vaitk 12, Mindau 12