26 Feb 2024

Tall Blacks make it two from two

6:52 am on 26 February 2024
Tall Blacks Head coach Pero Cameron.

Tall Blacks Head coach Pero Cameron. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Tall Blacks crushed Hong Kong 88-49 in their second game of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers in Auckland.

New Zealand are second in their group, level on four points with leaders Philippines, who have also won both of their opening games.

In other Asia Cup action Japan beat China 76-73, their first win over China at a major competition in almost 90 years.

The next window for games is in November.

The Asia Cup will be contested in Saudi Arabia next year.

Against Hong Kong, the Tall Blacks pushed out to a 27-7 advantage in the first quarter.

Hong Kong was competitive in the second and third quarters, but we unable to reduce the deficit. A 20-11 fourth quarter by New Zealand, led by Tyrell Harrison's 18 points & 8 rebounds, helped the hosts take home a comfortable victory.

Dan Fotu scored 13 points & 6 rebounds, Tobias Cameron 9, with Sam Timmins and Max Darling tallying 8 points apiece as the Kiwis dominated inside.

The game also saw the national team debuts for a pair of 17-year-olds in Hayden Jones (7 points) and Julius Halaifonua (4 points), making them respectively the fourth and eighth youngest players to appear for the Tall Blacks.

The Tall Blacks now have a break in international action, with their next tournament the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Greece from 2-7 July, where they face Group A opponents Slovenia and Croatia in a battle for a spot at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The Tall Blacks will also square off against the Philippines (in Manila) and Chinese Taipei (in Christchurch) for Window 2 of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers in November.

Tall Blacks Coach, Pero Cameron was satisfied with the squad's effort tonight, including the successful debuts of a pair of young Tall Blacks.

"I felt the starting group got us out to a tough defensive start, it may not have shown on the scoreboard in the first five minutes, but it set the way for a good close for our guys coming off the bench. In that first quarter we were able to get up 20 and then maintain that throughout the rest of the game. So good job by our leaders," says Cameron.

"Our two 17-year-olds - Julius and Hayden - I thought their first couple of touches were a little bit nerve-wracking; Hayden was able to score on his second touch. I think it's always good with these windows, when our leaders and [first choice] players are not available, that the younger guys are able to step up and get that experience. And playing for your country, wearing the black is a lot tougher than you anticipate, so I felt they took that opportunity and played well on both ends - and everybody is proud of them."