1 Sep 2023

Tall Blacks suffer another loss at World Cup

5:48 am on 1 September 2023
Reuben Te Rangi of New Zealand.

Reuben Te Rangi of New Zealand. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Tall Blacks have been beaten 108-100 by Mexico in their first qualification game at the men's basketball world cup in Manilla.

The result puts a dent in their chances of making the next stage of Olympic qualifying.

With only a 20-hour turnaround from their battle with Greece, the Kiwis struggled early against their well-rested opponents and started the game flat.

Mexico grabbed a 48-34 lead on the strength of their hot shooting - a blistering 9/15 from outside - and a late fourth quarter comeback reduced New Zealand's deficit to four thanks to the heroics of Reuben Te Rangi and Finn Delany.

But New Zealand were unable to snatch the come-from-behind win in the closing minutes, dropping to 1-3 in this World Cup and putting their Olympic 2024 hopes in jeopardy.

Reuben Te Rangi led the Kiwis with a scorching 32 points on 6-9 shooting from downtown, while Finn Delany had 19 points (5-12 from outside) and Shea Ili had another strong effort with 18 points and 10 assists. Yanni Wetzell added 9 & 4, while Isaac Fotu added 8 & 5.

Tall Blacks coach Pero Cameron says that the team has to focus on the next game and their goal in this competition - a place in the Olympic Qualifier event in June 2024.

"We've still got another game, and our focus on recovery is right now the next 12-14 hours, and also coaches are going into looking at the [Egypt] game. We've got to put this game aside now and flush it," says Cameron.

"I just want to acknowledge that we may have been a little flat but Mexico played really well and shot the s#%t out of it so hat's off to their coach and their group for hanging tough with it. We've gotta move onto the next game, there's no easy games at the World Cup and we next play in a day and a half - so we must turn around and play better. We're still playing for something, we're playing for a bid at the qualifiers which is important for us."

Te Rangi says that the team's short turnaround between games cannot be used as an excuse for the loss.

"From a player perspective yes it's really difficult, but no-one cares if you've played a game 16 hours before this one; we knew what we were coming into tonight, and the effort and energy we usually bring just wasn't there," says Te Rangi.

The Tall Blacks play Egypt Saturday night.