It was third time lucky for the Tall Ferns at the Four Nations Tournament in Hengyang, China on Monday night. The Tall Ferns beat the Czech Republic, ranked number five in the world, 72-64.
The Kiwis got off to a strong start claiming the opening quarter 21-18 and the first half 39-30 before seeing off the Czechs with a solid second half display.
For the third consecutive game Toni Edmondson (16pts) led the Tall Ferns scoring effort, one of four players in double figures. Kalani Purcell was at her dynamic best contributing 13points/11rebounds/2assists/4steals and displaying the type of form that made her such a standout at Brigham Young University last season. Forward Deena Franklin continued her good form with 12 points and 5 rebounds in just 16 minutes before fouling out.
Naturally coach Kennedy Kereama was delighted with the victory.
"That was a very satisfying win against a world powerhouse. We looked fresher, quicker and we had a number of people chipping in at both ends of the court. Defence was the key for us and I thought we really did a good job taking away the Czech's preferred shots. Our extended pressure defence was excellent and we forced them into a number of turnovers! Now the challenge is to do what we did today consistently as we were still patchy in phases.
"Kalani Purcell was a real juggernaut and although she fouled out she was a big reason we were in the game and made some big plays.
"However down the stretch it was our veterans Toni (Edmondson) and Micaela (Cocks) who shouldered the team and carried us over a the line."
Cocks was back towards her best with 13 points (5/11FG). Former North Harbour guard Brooke Blair, now based at Idaho State University, was given her first taste of international basketball enjoying four minutes of court time.