21 Aug 2017

Tall Blacks slip to fourth in Asia Cup

1:31 pm on 21 August 2017

The New Zealand men's basketball team have lost their bronze medal match at the Asia basketball tournament in Lebanon, going down 80-71.

 Tall Blacks in action against Korea

Tall Blacks in action against Korea Photo: Photosport

The loss means the Tall Blacks finish the tournament in fourth place. Australia took out the gold medal beating Iran 79-56 in the final.

The Tall Blacks went into the game without star point guard Shea Ili who had split his webbing and with several players battling illness.

After a good start and leading 13-5, the Tall Blacks fell into a hole and the Koreans found their range from deep, to lead 25-17 at the end of the first quarter, and 44-31 at halftime.

Finn Delany with 22 points and 7 rebounds and Reuben Te Rangi with 18 points and 8 rebounds led a second half fightback to bring the Tall Blacks back into the game.

But they could never close the gap closer than five points, finally going down 80-71.

Paul Henare

Paul Henare Photo: Photosport

Coach Paul Henare said he was proud of the team's performance.

"We got within striking distance and yet again this young group showed the fight to stay involved in a game and give themselves a chance."

"They played a really good second half but unfortunately it wasn't enough and Korea deserved that win tonight."

"Losing Shea was tough, he has had a great tournament and been arguably our best player, that was always going to be a tough ask."

Henare said the fourth place finish was a credit to a team that some had written off before they left New Zealand.

"To be honest I looked at our draw and the tournament and had a fair idea of what we were up against. I thought if we can get out of the group stage and see if we can advance from there"

"Obviously, you want to go as far as you can, but from early on against Kazakhstan and what we did to win that and then the maturity they showed against Lebanon gave us all so much belief."

"They have exceeded almost everyone's expectations and that is impressive."

The Tall Blacks will face Korea again in November in their FIBA World Cup qualifying campaign.

New Zealand will play Korea, China and Hong Kong in Pool A of the Asian qualifying games.