4 Jul 2009

Close again but still another loss

7:00 am on 4 July 2009

New Zealand have lost their second game at the FIBA Under 19 world basketball championships in Auckland, going down 79 to 72 to Croatia.

Without the 2.11 metre centre Rob Loe, who was ruled out with an Achilles strain, and on the wrong end of a significant height disparity, the Junior Tall Blacks couldn't cope with the big Croatians' inside power game, and the visitors' three-point shooting was on song too.

The forward Richie Edwards top-scored for New Zealand with 29 points and had nine rebounds, while Croatian captain Mario Delas dominated inside, scoring a game-high 31 points with crucial baskets for the European bronze medallists.

New Zealand hung tough despite being out-shot and out-rebounded, with the scores level at 65-65 with five minutes remaining.

But their shooting faltered and Croatia went on a 10-1 run over the next four minutes to lock down their second win.

The Junior Tall Blacks must now beat Kazakhstan tonight to advance to the next stage.

Argentina beat Kazakhstan 98-69 while in the other games Lithuania thrashed Angola 104-46, Canada also dished out a hiding to Syria, 99-53, Greece beat Puerto Rico, the USA beat France, Egypt beat Iran, and Australia beat Spain.