8 Aug 2015

Tall Blacks win Stankovic Cup

7:44 am on 8 August 2015

The national men's basketballers have won a second Stankovic Cup title, narrowly defeating Mexico 70-66 in the final in China.

The Tall Blacks swept the tournament, scoring a rare international title to repeat their efforts of 2011.

Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare

Coach Paul Henare was pleased with the win but warned that it was just a warmup for the Oceania Olympic qualifiers. Photo: Photosport

Again it was final quarter heroics that took them to the title as they repelled a Mexican third-quarter comeback that then flowed into a narrow lead in the final 10 minutes, before the Tall Blacks stepped up the pressure at both ends of the floor to take the title.

The win is a curious one in that the team is in preparation mode for the upcoming Oceania Series, a home and away contest against Australia with the winner qualifying for the Rio Olympic Games.

"It is important that we enjoy this and take the time to reflect on what we have achieved," said head coach Paul Henare. "These moments are rare for New Zealand basketball and we need to take the chance to be proud of what we have done, be humble but be proud.

"But now we quickly turn our attention to the main focus, this is all leading up to the series against Australia, that is our one and only goal and we are only a few steps along the way. We have plenty of improving to do, we know that and we have stayed focused on that throughout this tournament, but for now, I think we have earned the right to enjoy it for a few hours before the flight home."

Isaac Fotu and Corey Webster were both named to the tournament All Star Five, while Webster took out the Tournament MVP as he posted a game high 30 points to cap a consistent week in which he was always a threat to the opposition with ball in hand.

New Zealand dominated the boards in the final to the tune of 48-24, with Fotu a menace collecting 18 of them to go with his 16 points, six on the offensive glass.

Tom Abercrombie had a quiet scoring night but picked up seven boards.

Shooting from distance was not one of the highlights though, with the Tall Blacks making just six of 24 from beyond the arc.

The team will now return to New Zealand with a little extra baggage to put in the trophy cabinet at BBNZ headquarters in Wellington.

Back here and Japan again proved too strong for the Tall Ferns women's side in the second of their three-Test series in Christchurch, the Japanese winning 93-66.

View the box score here