7 Jul 2016

Tall Blacks enjoy first up win in last gasp Rio bid

7:11 am on 7 July 2016
Tai Webster led the scoring for the Tall Blacks.

Tai Webster led the scoring for the Tall Blacks. Photo: Photosport

The New Zealand men's basketball team have advanced to the semi-finals at the last chance Olympic qualifying tournament in the Philippines with an 89-80 win over the hosts in Manila.

The Philippines lost their opening match to France, meaning they're now out of contention to make the knockout stage.

The Tall Blacks won in front of a sold out crowd of 16,000 home fans and the New Zealand coach Henare says it was his side's best performance in some time.

"I liked the balance of how we attacked them with Tai and Corey a hell of a back court but with Tom and Ike making huge baskets as well, it was the most balanced performance on tour for sure," said coach Paul Henare.

Tai Webster top scored for the Tall Blacks with 25 points, 11 rebounds and 3 assists while brother Corey Webster was back to near his best on limited preparation due to a calf strain, with 23 points.

"They are young in age but they are nearly vets, to see them come out and show that tonight, it is a good start, phase one done," said captain Mika Vukona.

The Tall Blacks play France on Friday monring in a match which will decide who finishes top of their pool, with both teams already assured of a place in the final four.

The tournament winner will qualify for Rio.