17 May 2016

Tall Ferns end tournament with a win over Czech Republic

8:47 am on 17 May 2016

The New Zealand womens basketball team has finished the four-nation tournament in China with a 72-64 win over the Czech Republic.

Tall Fern Kalani Purcell.

Tall Fern Kalani Purcell. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Tall Ferns got off to a strong start claiming the opening quarter 21-18 and the first half 39-30 before seeing off the fifth ranked 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 best contributing 13points/11rebounds/2assists/4steals and displaying the type of form that made her such a standout at Brigham Young University last season.

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.

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.

The Tall Ferns suffered losses to China and Montenegro in their first two games of the tournament.

They now head to Xilinhot, Inner Mongolia to play China again on Thursday.

There they will be joined by Stella Beck and Penina Davidson who will be flying in from their college commitments at St Mary's and University of California, Berkley.

The Tall Ferns are preparing for the final Olympic qualifying tournament in France in June.