14 Aug 2008

Tall Ferns struggling in Beijing

7:09 am on 14 August 2008

China's women's basketballers have beaten New Zealand 80-63, putting the Tall Ferns' hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals in Beijing in jeopardy.

The Olympic hosts took control early after a bizarre start when they raced to the wrong end of the court after losing the tip-off and gifted New Zealand a free lay-up, which they missed.

Victory over the hosts, as it had four years ago in Athens, would have greatly boosted the Tall Ferns' chances of progressing to the next stage.

But the Ferns were quickly on the back foot, conceding a nine-point run and a double-lead lead to the home team in the opening quarter.

They closed to within five but couldn't contain China's inside scoring as the advantage stretched to 17 points at halftime.

Honours were shared in each of the third and fourth periods but it was too late by then.

An expected win over Mali in their next game would secure China's place in the quarter-finals.

In other results Australia crushed South Korea 90-62, European champions Russia were the first team to book a quarter-final spot with a 71-65 victory over Belarus, Spain trounced the Czech Republic 74-55 and Latvia squeezed past Brazil 79-78 for their first win.