A poor start proved costly for the Tall Blacks sa they slumped to a 106-79 loss to Australia in the semi-finals of the Asia Cup basketball tournament in Beirut.
They trailed 31-10 at the end of the first quarter, after being down 22-2 at one stage.
By halftime the deficit was down to 13, thanks largely to the efforts of Shea Ili, while captain Reuben Te Rangi was another to step up after the poor opening.
Head Coach Paul Henare was left ruing the slow start, and hopes that it was lesson learned by his team facing this sort of pressure for the first time in the tournament.
"I just don't think we executed what we had spoken about and what we needed to do at the defensive end especially, we had multiple breakdowns and they scored off each and every one of those breakdowns unfortunately."
The Tall Blacks lost IIi to a hand injury while several players are also trying to overcome a bug which has swept through the side.
"They had a few shots that we had said we would live with but outside of that, of the 31 points it was pretty easy going for them and once you dig a hole like that against a team like Australia, it is always going to be tough," he said.
"Considering that deficit of 22-2, to go into the sheds 13 down was a bloody good effort really, and we gave ourselves a chance," he said.
Henare was quick post-game to redirect his team's energy towards a rare opportunity to play for a medal at a Continental Championships, where they will now play South Korea for the bronze.
"It is still on the cards, by getting into the semifinals you are playing for medals, we missed our first chance but tomorrow we get another one."
The team will be keeping a close eye on Ili's stitched hand and on those under the weather, hoping that the bug is a quick moving one and allows the Tall Blacks to be at full strength in that bronze medal match, based on the efforts of this young team throughout the tournament, it is the least they deserve.