11 Jul 2016

No Olympics for Tall Blacks

11:56 am on 11 July 2016

The New Zealand men's basketball team won't be going to the Rio Games after being beaten 78-72 by Canada in the semi-finals of the last chance Olympic qualifying tournament in the Philippines.

Corey Webster led the scoring for the Tall Blacks.

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

Already outsized, the Tall Blacks lost big man Isaac Fotu early to injury in the game and yet still pushed Canada to the brink, in the end bowing out of the tournament in an entertaining battle.

The sides were barely separated throughout, with the Canadians momentarily taking advantage of Fotu's departure with an Achilles injury but the Tall Blacks fought back to tie the scores at 42 at half-time.

Whether it was that work rate or simply the Canadians finishing the stronger, it was the North Americans who held their nerve down the stretch to advance to the final.

Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare said he was proud of his side's efforts.

"How we competed out there with a very good Canadian team against some of those mismatches, I don't know. To do what we just did without Ike and to stay with them and push them and compete with them for so long, that is just testament to what we like to call 'Tall Blacks basketball'.

"Don't get me wrong, that group in the dressing room right now is shattered, they are hugely disappointed to lose a game they think they should have won, but that is the strength of this group, they had no doubts, they truly believed we would win this game tonight and then win the final and book our place in Rio."

Corey Webster led the New Zealand scoring with 21 points.

He found good support in younger brother Tai, who scored 15 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists and and Tom Abercrombie, who scored 16 points.