The New Zealand U18 women’s team has shown some class at the FIBA U18 3x3 World Cup after defeating Poland in the pool round. The result comes only a couple of hours after being defeated by USA. They now await Russia and Hungary in their remaining pool games.
In their opening game, the US brought one of the country’s most promising young female guards in Hailey Ann Van Lith from the small town of Cashmere. Said to be one of the top ranked recruits in the US with top US colleges seeking her commitment, Van Lith’s pace, ball skill and in-your-face defence was too much for the Kiwis. She combined well alongside team-mate Rickea Velece Jackson who hit a hot streak from deep to bring the US home.
Early on the Kiwis looked nervous, struggling for rebounds against the superior height of the US. That said, the game was evenly matched for most of the game, with the game tied at six all with five minutes remaining. The US pulled away as the Kiwis struggling to find the target from deep, with too many air balls, moments of indecision and a couple of shot clock violations. USA was just too dominate, to win 20 to 11.
New Zealand’s second match against Poland was much better. Charlisse Leger-Walker immediately hit two and Pupuke-Robati showed her strength under the post, making light work of her opportunities. Tayla Dalton then stepped up from deep, drilling more two pointers and the momentum was on the Kiwis side. Poland became flustered. They struggled with New Zealand’s height, particularly with Ashlee Strawbridge getting more minutes in this second game and proving her defensive class. Poland racked up their foul count and New Zealand shot calmly from the free throw line. The Kiwis created more space and appeared more settled than they did during the performance against the US. The result was never in doubt. Poland seemed run out of puff as the Kiwis methodically ticked over the score board to beat the clock and make it through to the maximum total to win 21-4.
The next games will also be livestreamed on @BasketballNZ Facebook and the FIBA 3x3 Youtube channel.
New Zealand vs Russia: 6 June, 5pm NZT.
New Zealand vs Hungary: 6 June, 6:30pm.
Tournament website: http://www.fiba.basketball/3x3U18WC/2019