1 Aug 2015

Tall Blacks lose another tight one

11:19 am on 1 August 2015

The Tall Blacks have been beaten 73-68 to Slovenia in their last game in Europe, 24 hours after going down in a close one to Croatia.

The New Zealanders were in contention until late in both games and assistant coach Pero Cameron wants his side to learn to close out a game.

The Tall Blacks perform the haka on their European tour against Great Britain in London, 25.07.2015

The Tall Blacks perform the haka on their European tour Photo: Photosport

The Tall Blacks were in contention until late in both games and Cameron said it's something they'll have to work on ahead of the Oceania Olympic qualifying series against Australia next month, with the prize of a place at the Rio Games up for grabs.

"The win for both games was there to take, we just need to be tougher down the stretch, tougher on ourselves - especially defensively - be disciplined, live with our mistakes," Cameron said.

"End of the day, we gotta get stops. And we also gotta knock down the shots that are there."

Friday's loss was the second in 24 hours the team came up just short against powerhouse European opposition, and they led throughout against the world No.13 Slovenians until the five-point final margin.

Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare

Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare Photo: Photosport

Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare was also disappointed to miss in a tight finish two days in a row.

"These are rare chances against world class teams, chances that we have to take with both hands. We didn't do that today in a game we could and should have won so of course we are disappointed, I would be annoyed if we weren't. It was a few defensive lapses in the final five minutes and a lack of composure on the offensive end that ultimately cost us against a desperate Slovenian team looking to impress in front of their home crowd."

Henare's not letting the string of near misses get him or his side down however - he said he's proud of their group and the way they are learning as individuals and as a team.

"We are building something special and must continue to raise our standards and not drop our expectations, Australia is going to be very tough. We must improve, we must get better and learn from these games in these environments."

The Tall Blacks now head to China for a tournament which also involves China, Mexico and Venezuela.

Meanwhile after four losses the New Zealand women's basketball team have finally won a match at the William Jones Cup in Taiwan, beating an American selection 79-54 in their fifth and final game.

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