Tall Blacks finish qualifying campaign with loss to Jordan

Paul Henare
Paul Henare
The Tall Blacks had already booked their spot at this year's Fiba World Cup, but fell at the final hurdle in their quest to qualify as top seed in Asia, going down 86-80 yesterday against a desperate and fired-up Jordan side playing for its own spot at the World Cup.

The Tall Blacks fell behind in the third quarter and, despite making several runs at the home team, they could no quite bridge the gap.

It was another tough shooting night, both sides struggling in the face of strong defence.

The Tall Blacks shot 39% from the floor, and just nine of 30 from deep.

Best of the New Zealanders was Corey Webster with 18, while it was a supporting cast chipping in as Ili (16), Abercrombie (10) and Delany (10) all finished in double figures.

Coach Paul Henare was clearly disappointed with the loss, one that came on the back of a lack of composure and mistakes at crucial moments, but nonetheless was proud of a 10-2 campaign in which the Tall Blacks finished on top of group E in Asian qualifying.

"We started the whole thing with a loss and unfortunately finished with a loss,'' Henare said.

"I said to the guys afterwards I never questioned their heart and the way they played, but there is definitely a lot to learn from the game and losing at this level the repercussions are harsh.

"Fortunately for us we have had a fantastic overall qualifying process and booked our ticket for the World Cup. I am proud of our group for the work we have done.''

Henare said the way they lost hurt as the key areas were the the Tall Blacks are usually strong in.

"The biggest stat [to hurt us] was offensive rebounds, them having 25 offensive rebounds and getting 24 second-chance points from that. At any level you can't give away that many points and opportunities, especially on the road.

"That has traditionally been one of our strengths as a Tall Blacks group so to fall short there is disappointing. We have to learn from that.

"Even after all of that we had our chances and couldn't close the gap at the end. We have shot the ball poorly the last couple of games, for whatever reason, and you need to put the ball in the hole at important stages.''

Henare is already focused on the next goal, that of the World Cup itself in late August and early September. The first part of that process will be whittling a quality group of players down to the 12 that can be selected to travel to China.

Add a Comment