Tall Blacks narrowly fall to 76-75 loss against South Korea at Asia Cup

  • 13/08/2017
Guard Shea Illi had a chance to turn the result in New Zealand's favor but the ball didn't drop
Guard Shea Illi had a chance to turn the result in New Zealand's favor but the ball didn't drop Photo credit: Getty Images

New Zealand's youthful Tall Blacks team stuttered in their Asia Cup campaign with a narrow 76-75 defeat to South Korea, but have still eased straight through to the quarter-finals in Beirut.

After wins against Kazakhstan and hosts Lebanon, the Kiwis looked well out of contention against Korea, trailing by 15 points at one stage in the first half.

Down 17-19 at the end of the first quarter, the Tall Blacks fell well off the pace in the second stanza as South Korea took a 41-30 lead into half-time.

The Kiwis stormed back to take the third spell 27-12, grabbing a 57-53 lead at the three-quarter mark.

The two teams traded baskets and free throws down the final stretch, the Tall Blacks taking the final possession and the chance to finish pool play unbeaten.

But a potential game winner from Shea Ili caught the rim and would not roll the right way as the Kiwis came up just short on the buzzer.

However, the Tall Blacks still finished top of their pool in the 16-nation tournament, earning automatic qualification through to the quarter-finals on Friday (NZT) where they will meet the winner of Wednesday's qualifier.

Coach Paul Henare says his team had the winning of the match but made a couple of telling errors in the closing seconds.

"In crucial situations you need to execute on both ends and we let ourselves down there," he said.

"But we achieved our goal of finishing first in our pool, and I am extremely proud of the boys in doing that."

Derone Raukawa and Finn Delany led the way against Korea with 14 points apiece for the Tall Blacks but Henare said the win was a complete team effort.

"They have more than proven they are capable of competing and winning against quality teams."

NZN 

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