U17 team make mark

Hayden Jones (13) of New Zealand defends against Kaan Onat of Turkiye during the third place...
Hayden Jones (13) of New Zealand defends against Kaan Onat of Turkiye during the third place match of the FIBA U-17 World Cup at Ahmet Comert Sports Hall in Istanbul, Turkiye on July 07, 2024. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
The New Zealand under-17 boys team finished fourth in the world in Istanbul yesterday.

Their bid to become the first Kiwi side to win a medal at a Fiba World Cup was undone by the host nation as Turkey won the bronze medal game 101-78.

They still became the first New Zealand side to reach the semifinals of an age-grade world tournament, while emulating the fourth placing of the senior Tall Blacks at the world championships in Indianapolis in 2002.

One of the key members of this highly promising New Zealand under-17 team is Hayden Jones, son of Tall Blacks great and one-season Otago Nuggets guard Phill Jones.

In the bronze-medal contest, Oscar Goodman — later named to the tournament all-star five — scored 25 points and grabbed eight rebounds.

Lachie Crate had arguably his strongest game of the tournament with 21 points, the consistent Jones tallied 15 points, Troy Plumtree finished with five points, five rebounds and five assists, and Jackson Kiss plundered 13 rebounds to accompany three blocks.

New Zealand had beaten Turkey 114-94 in the opening game but the hosts were far more resilient opposition with a medal at stake.

Despite the 21 rebounds accumulated by Kiss and Plumtree, Turkey came up with 15 offensive boards compared with the Kiwis’ 11 and only had 11 turnovers to New Zealand’s 17.

Outstanding Turkish wing Derin Can Ustun went 6-of-10 from beyond the arc, where Turkey shot a highly efficient 46% (15-of-33). In comparison, New Zealand were just 5-of-22 (23%) from deep and only 37% (23-of-62) from the field.

Goodman averaged 17 points, 6.3 rebounds, three assists and 1.4 steals per game and was deservedly named to the all-star five.

Coach Leyton Haddleton and his Kiwi charges certainly made the basketball world take notice.

In the gold-medal game, the United States underlined their superiority with a 129-88 win over Italy, the Americans’ seventh U17 World Cup triumph.