New Zealand has finished 14th in the inaugural Youth Olympic Games
New Zealand has finished 14th in the inaugural Youth Olympic Games basketball competition after falling 29-26 to Egypt in their final classification outing in Singapore.
Despite the loss, their performance in the final game was one of their best of the FIBA33 tournament, but it suffered from bad decisions at key times.
“We failed to close out on the ball handler off two on-ball screens in the last 90 seconds of the game,” observed coach Anthony Corban. “They bombed two big three pointers on us … from a kid that had poor pre-game shooting stats.
“Plan and simple, we were tired. Today was the first time on the bus that there was not alot of talking … athletes from all teams were asleep.
“You don’t realise how draining this tournament format is, combined with the heat and humidity.
“Egypt were not a flash team; they just hustle every play. The hot humid conditions did not bother them, but it killed our boys.”
After missing the quarterfinal cut, the young Kiwis had lost to Iran and defeated Central Africa in a bitter struggle.
But the final results reflected how tough New Zealand’s pool was. Unbeaten Serbia went on to take the gold medal from Croatia, Greece (which needed overtime to beat NZ) defeated the USA for bronze medals and an undermanned Puerto Rico wound up ninth.
“I honestly believe we have achieved a lot to cement creditability for the Basketball New Zealand junior programme, following on from the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championships,” said Corban.
“When you defeat Puerto Rico and push Greece to overtime, your programme must be respected.”
Youth Olympic Games
Monday, August 23
Egypt 29 New Zealand 26 (James Ashby 8, Ben Fraser 8, Michael Karena 6, Rueben Te Rangi 4)
FT 29-26 (15-10)