Friday, 31 July 2015

Tall Blacks tour - European leg

After a pretty convincing victory against Great Britain earlier in the campaign the team travelled to Croatia for a match against the hosts and then followed by a bus ride to Slovenia for a match up against them 24 hours later.

Game one against Croatia was a bit of a heart breaker.  Losing 70-68 on the buzzer to a three pointer after a Mika Vukona put back put them up by one point with 10 seconds remaining. The home side were missing several NBA players so weren't a full strength side but they were still a very good team featuring many euroleague level players. A pretty special comeback was on the cards after being down 11 after three quarters and as I mentioned earlier they actually had the lead with 10 seconds left courtesy of Mika's offensive rebound and put back  but wasn't meant to be with Croatia's Rok Stipcevic hitting a three as the final buzzer went off!! Would have been a tough pill to swallow! They shot over 50% for the game and 39% from 3 and the rebounding count was even, but ball security let them down, committing 24 turnovers for the game. Corey Webster backed up his showing against Great Britain with a game high 19 points on 50% shooting and Mika Vukona added a workman like 10 points and 9 rebounds, Rob loe and Isaac Fotu added 9 points each.

Twenty four hours and a long bus trip later they played their second game of the european part of their tour against Slovenia. Unfortunately Slovenia escaped with a narrow 73-68. Leading by 5 at half time and by 3 at 3/4 time the boys will be gutted that a golden opportunity to knock of a euro powerhouse slipped through their fingers. The shooting wasn't quite as accurate as the night before against Croatia, going 35% from the field and 31% from 3, but the turnover count was significantly lower with 11 for the game. For the third game in a row C Web lead the scorers with 19, though not quite as efficient as his previous two outings going 5-18 from the field. Isaac Fotu continued his good form with 13 points and Reuben TeRangi was the third player in double figures with 10, Mika again chipped in with 6 & 8 and Tom Abercrombie helped out with 8 - 5 and a couple of steals.

The results obviously weren't what they were after and moral victories don't count in the win loss column but there were definitely positives to take away from both games and seem to be building nicely towards the Oceania series

The boys now fly off to China for the Stankovic cup...They will play games against China, Mexico and Venezuela. Three more tough tests on foreign soil.

AP

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