Tall Blacks 133
Hong Kong 74
The Tall Blacks are on the board in their World Cup qualifying campaign in truly absurd fashion.
A hilariously lopsided 133-74 thumping of Hong Kong gave the Tall Blacks their first win in their Asian campaign, in a bizarre game which was more like a social shootaround or All-Star game than an international basketball qualifier.
While a hefty victory was expected, the surprise came in how freely the points flowed, with the Tall Blacks shooting 68 per cent from the floor and 62.5 per cent from deep in one the biggest thrashings in New Zealand basketball history.
As one could gather from the percentages, the Tall Blacks could literally choose whatever shot they wanted. They hit 20 threes, and not once did it look like their sky-high success rate would decline, such was the space they had to let fly.
Hong Kong, for their part, lacked the size, strength and athleticism to get anything near the rim, so were perfectly content with chucking shots from 30 feet. On defence, they flew around like a swarm of confused bees - energetic but with no real purpose or idea of where to be.
The end result was a frankly amusing affair, and a win for the Tall Blacks which moves them into second in Pool A following China's 92-81 win over South Korea.
Following the Tall Blacks' 86-80 defeat to South Korea on Thursday, we were never going to be able to glean much from this morning's matchup, with Hong Kong having lost by 54 points to China and quite safely being the worst team the Tall Blacks have played in eons.
While any analysis of such a thrashing would be largely pointless, the hardy few to stay up into the early hours were treated to an enjoyable encounter; one in which the Tall Blacks put on an offensive clinic.
From 13 seconds in, when Corey Webster canned a wide open triple, you could sense how the game was going to trend. Hong Kong couldn't get any good offensive looks, but it barely mattered to begin, with the hosts hitting some ludicrous threes to remarkably be in touch, down 17-14.
Despite their offensive heroics, Hong Kong still trailed 36-22 at quarter-time, and it was all downhill from there, as the Tall Blacks ran riot.
They brought up 60 points in just 17 minutes of play, their dominance being such that it was rather surprising when they missed a shot. Their halftime shooting splits (73 per cent from the floor, 71 per cent from three, 100 per cent at the free-throw line) would have been too unrealistic for even a video game to accept.
And so it went. 100 points came around in no time, and the Tall Blacks continued to can open threes. Hong Kong, to their credit, were relentlessly enthusiastic, and their home crowd kept chanting and cheering even as their home side's deficit stretched past 50.
Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare experimented with some lineups, but by that point, he could have put five Herald staffers on the floor and the result would have remained the same. No player received more than 21 minutes on court, and the scoring allocations were similarly balanced, with all 12 players scoring between six and 18 points.
Hong Kong battled on, but the disparity was overwhelming, as the Tall Blacks eventually coasted to a 59-point victory of ultimately little significance, but extreme satisfaction.
The Tall Blacks can lock in another victory against Hong Kong when they visit New Zealand in June, but the clashes in between - against China and South Korea - will be of greater value.
The odds of qualifying for the World Cup are stacked heavily in the Tall Blacks favour, but their games against those two Pool A rivals will be a good litmus test to see just how much the Kiwi side has improved thanks to their increased depth.
But, that's a matter to deal with in February. For now, the Tall Blacks can enjoy a historic victory.
Tall Blacks 133 (Jordan Ngatai 18, Reuben Te Rangi 16, Shea Ili 14)
Hong Kong 74