TALL FERNS DISPERSE UNTIL COMMONWEALTH GAMES
Posted on Tuesday, 1 August 2017
The Tall Ferns finished sixth at the recently concluded 2017 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup played in Bengaluru, India.
Whilst the team will be disappointed to not have finished in the top four and therefore securing a berth at the 2018 World Cup a number of individuals produced some eye catching numbers at the tournament.
Micaela Cocks, Jillian Harmon, Toni Edmondson, Chevannah Paalvast and Kalani Purcell all logged big minutes as coach Kennedy Kereama relied heavily on his experienced starting five.
Paalvast averaged 23.5 minutes per game with the other four starters all clocking in excess of 26 minutes per outing. Cocks, renowned for her high level of fitness, played 33.6 minutes per game – the second highest in the tournament behind North Korea’s Suk Yong Ro.
Purcell and Harmon finished as the top two rebounders at the Asia Cup claiming 10.0 and 9.3 boards per game respectively. Perth based Edmondson was also a top ten contributor securing 6.2 rebounds per game.
Harmon, Cocks and Purcell each averaged double figure points tallies – New Zealand one of only three teams to have three players average ten points or more per game.
Harmon was fourth overall in the scoring category totaling 84 points at 14.0 points per game. Cocks was seventh (11.3ppg) and Purcell thirteenth (10.3ppg).
With double doubles against North Korea, Chinese Taipei and Korea Harmon was one of only three players at the tournament to register double figure points and rebounds in three games in Bengaluru.
Perhaps fittingly the youngest member of the Tall Ferns squad, 19 year old Zara Jillings, scored her first points in a black singlet making the last basket of the final game against Chinese Taipei.
Japan were crowned Asia Cup champions for the third consecutive time after a narrow 74-73 triumph against Australia in the final.
The story of the game belonged to Japanese guard Saki Mizushima who, on her way to 26 points, scored an incredible seven three pointers in the second half to carry her team to victory.
Japan showed that their playing stocks are in good order finishing fourth at the FIBA Under 19 World Cup played in Italy at the same time. Japan lost the bronze medal encounter with Canada 67-60 – that game officiated by Kiwi referee Ryan Jones.
Back to the Women’s Asia Cup and China beat Korea 75-51 in the bronze medal game.
Host nation India beat Kazakhstan 75-73 in the final of the B Division competition and will replace DPR of Korea in the A Division at the next Asia Cup tournament. DPR of Korea lost 78-63 to the Philippines in the relegation play-off game.
The Tall Ferns programme will now go into recess before resuming in April at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. The Women’s Basketball tournament at the Games will be an eight team event involving Australia, Canada, India, Mozambique, Jamaica, England, Malaysia and New Zealand beginning on 5 April.
Eight of the Tall Ferns are based in Australia and will immediately return to action with their respective State League club sides.
Once those competitions conclude Cocks (Townsville Fire), Edmondson (Perth Lynx), Rebecca Ott and Purcell (both Melbourne Boomers) will begin preparation for the Australian WNBL season that begins in October. Ott and Purcell will link up with Tall Ferns assistant coach Guy Molloy who is head coach of Melbourne Boomers.
Harmon will head back to Europe to resume her professional career in Italy while Deena Franklin and Georgia Agnew, the only two New Zealand domiciled players, will return to Auckland to continue their university studies.
Also undertaking more study is Jillings who is in her freshman year at Fordham University in New York. At Fordham she will be playing alongside 2016 Junior Tall Fern teammate Kendell Heremaia.