The Tall Blacks sponsored by Security Placements, showed they are indeed a team to be reckoned with at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in China, with a comfortable 93-83 win over higher ranked Montenegro in Nanjing tonight, controlling the game throughout and this time overcoming a third quarter stumble to close out easy winners.
Powered by the elder Webster's torrid shooting spree, New Zealand led early in the game and took a nine-point lead to the halftime break. Coach Paul Henare certainly needed Webster's outside touch as the Tall Blacks were desperate for a win at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 after bowing to Brazil in their first game. Montenegro mounted a furious rally in the third period to trim the gap to just one point heading into the final frame, but Webster & Co. rediscovered their shooting form to stave off the Montenegrins for good.
The supporting cast behind Webster and Fotu was lengthy, with Tai Webster picking up 11 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds, Rob Loe 10 points and 4 rebounds and Shea Ili a typically busy night at both ends of the floor with 10 points, six assists and 3 rebounds. The entire roster picked up the intensity on defence especially, responding to that rallying cry from Head Coach Paul Henare after the opening night defeat to Brazil.
New Zealand now play Greece on Thursday night, knowing that to keep their fate in their own hands they must defeat the world number 8 ranked team, including NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Anything less will most certainly risk their progression into the round of 16, while Brazil play Montenegro.