Our Manawatu rep Lachie Crate and Assistant Coach Darron Larson members of this team.
The New Zealand U16 Men’s team have emerged victorious in their first game of the FIBA U16 Asian Championships in Doha, holding off a furious fourth-quarter comeback by Korea to win 83-81.
With the Kiwis leading by eight heading into the final period, Korea mounted a strong challenge to tie the game with a minute left. But New Zealand weathered the storm, showing a measure of poise to pick up the two-point win over their Group C rivals.
New Zealand was led by 14 points apiece from Hayden Jones and Lachlan Crate, while James Matthews tallied 12 and 3 steals – with one of those steals coming in the closing seconds to help secure the win. Oscar Goodman was impressive with 8 points – including a pair of rim-rattling dunks – along with 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks, while Troy Plumtree and Jameer Reed scored 8 each; Reed also with 9 boards.
For Korea, Jihoon Yoon and Woohyeok Yang registered 19 points each; Daniel Edi dominant with 18 points, 7 rebounds and 5 steals and Mingi Kim tallying 12.
The Kiwis were dominant both on the boards and inside, with a 51-33 rebounding advantage – including 28 offensive boards – which led to 27 second chance points. They scored 58 of their points in the paint, more than double Korea’s output (26), and also managed to keep their fouls to a minimum (11 vs Korea’s 20).
Despite the win, New Zealand will have plenty of work-ons following this game. They were out-shot from the field in all categories, with Korea shooting 50% from the field (compared to 43% from New Zealand) and 50% from beyond the arc (8-16) while the Kiwis shot just 6/23 (26%). The team’s worst output came at the line, as they shot a putrid 7/17 (41%) from the charity stripe.
The start of the game saw Korea build a quick 7-0 lead before a steal and layup from Jones put the Kiwis on the scoreboard. New Zealand clawed their way back into the game; tying it up at 21 apiece with a minute left in the first thanks to a score from Martin, and taking a 25-24 lead heading into the second period.
Korea reclaimed the lead early in the second, but the Kiwis were undaunted; down by one with four minutes left, they embarked on a 8-0 run to help build a 48-41 lead heading into the second half. Particularly impressive was New Zealand’s rebounding – a 29 to 15 advantage, including 17 offensive boards thanks to the efforts of Goodman, Martin and Reed. Jones led the Kiwis with 11 points, while Crate had 7 and Martin 6; Goodman a force with his 4 points, 7 boards and 3 assists.
New Zealand’s lead briefly grew to 16 midway through the third, thanks to triples by Crate and Matthews, while holding Korea scoreless for almost the first four minutes. But Korea used strong defensive pressure to go on a 12-2 run and narrow the deficit to eight, with Jihoon Yoon hitting a spectacular triple as time expired in the quarter.
Korea’s comeback continued in the fourth, with the team coming out firing – and hitting – from downtown on multiple occasions. A late 7-0 Korea run tied the game at 76-all with just over a minute left, but a layup by Crate, followed a breakaway dunk by Jones gave the Kiwis a four-point buffer with 17 seconds left – holding on for the 83-81 win.
Next up is a clash with Jordan tomorrow night from 20:30pm NZT; watch it live at www.youtube.com/fiba