Basketball:Tall Ferns bounce back to beat African champ

The Tall Ferns put their Olympic campaign back on track with a 68-58 victory over African champion Angola in Suzhou, China, yesterday.

Trailing by 12 points at halftime, the New Zealand women gained momentum after the restart, outscoring their rival 22-7 in the third quarter and 42-20 over the second half.

"Once again, we got off to a slow start, but after a change-up in defence, we forced them to turn the ball over a considerable amount of times," coach Kennedy Kereama said.

"We forced them into taking shots as the shot clock wound down and managed to only give them six offensive rebounds, limiting their second-chance opportunities."

Kereama had challenged his players after their previous performance - a limp 72-64 loss to Australia's Emerging Opals 24 hours earlier - and got the response he was hoping for.

Angola has already qualified for the London Olympics, and victory gives the New Zealand campaign some credibility.

Natalie Taylor led the Tall Ferns with 19 points and Micaela Cocks had 13.

American-born Casey Lockwood also provided a spark off the bench with four points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals.

"It's fair to say, after yesterday, we challenged the players on a lot of things and we were extremely happy to see the response," Kereama said.

"Beating a team that has qualified for the Olympics sends a pretty good message."

The win was the Ferns' first of their China tour after losses to the young Aussies and the host team.

All four teams will now travel to Changzhou for another round of games. The Tall Ferns have two more outings against China B before heading to Turkey for the Olympic qualifying tournament later this month. There, they face 11 other teams from around the world, vying for the final five spots in the London draw.


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