Basketball: Tall Blacks wrap up World Cup qualifying with victory over Lebanon to finish atop pool

New Zealand have completed their Basketball World Cup qualifying campaign with victory over Lebanon to finish atop their Asian zone pool.

The Tall Blacks have finished their schedule with eight wins and two losses, with their 106-91 result over the Cedars at Wellington avenging one of those defeats, suffered at Beirut last November.

"It was definitely a tough game and it felt good to get a win against a team like Lebanon," said veteran Isaac Fotu. "We've had troubles with them in the past few years.

Isaac Fotu takes on the Lebanon defence
Isaac Fotu takes on the Lebanon defence. Photo credit: Photosport

"We take this confidence into World Cup preparations."

Fotu led the Tall Blacks scoring effort with 23 points, shooting 10/12 from the field, while Jordan Ngatai and Reuben Te Rangi had 21 apiece, converting 10/14 three-pointers between them.

New Zealand shot a red hot 65 percent from the field, including 14/26 (54 percent) from beyond the arc, and had 26 assists on their 37 made field goals.

Coach Pero Cameron leant heavily on his veteran core of Fotu, Te Rangi and Ngatai, but also received a valuable contribution from forward Hyrum Harris in the fourth quarter, after the visitors threatened to take control of the contest.

The Tall Blacks led by 10 points after the opening quarter and stretched their margin to 14 before halftime, but their rivals snatched the advantge 80-78 with 13 unanswered points late in the third period.

Harris stepped up with 10 points in the fourth quarter and the NZ defence held the Cedars scoreless for almost seven minutes to draw away down the stretch.

"A couple of things we had in our favour, we had a bit of discipline, but we also had more legs than them and our pressure was telling," observed Cameron. "Having a weapon inside like Fotu to command a double-team, and get wide open shots for our wings and corners was good.

"The challenge we got from them in the third and for us to respond that way was pleasing."

New Zealand and Australia topped the two pools from the Asian qualifying zone, and must now wait until April to learn their draw at the World Cup, scheduled for Japan and the Philippines in August/September.

Tall Blacks 106 (Fotu 23, Te Rangi 21, Ngatai 21) Lebanon 91 (Sauod 28, El Darwich 25, Hadidian 15)