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3x3 Tall Blacks miss Olympic qualification

Updated: May 3

Dom Kelman-Poto 3x3 Tall Blacks basketball
Dom Kelman-Poto was a leading contributor for the 3x3 Tall Blacks. PHOTO: FIBA

The 3x3 Tall Blacks' dreams of competing at the Paris Olympics have ended in heartbreaking fashion.

Chasing one spot at Paris 2024 at the FIBA Universality Olympic Qualifying Tournament 1 in Hong Kong over the weekend, the 3x3 Tall Blacks bowed out in the semifinals, before going on to finish fourth.

The Piet van Hasselt-coached team of Nikau McCullough, Dom Kelman-Poto, Chris McIntosh and Aidan Tonge fell 20-18 to Austria in a semifinal that went down to the final seconds and was decided at the free-throw line.

The two teams traded shots from beyond the arc in the early going, a sign of things to come as both squads focused on their outside shots throughout the contest.

After Austria built a 17-14 lead, New Zealand stormed back to tie it up at 18-18 thanks to a pair of free throws from Chris McIntosh and back-to-back buckets from Dom Kelman-Poto.

A costly turnover with 16 seconds remaining saw Austria gain possession, with Fabio Söhnel fouled on a drive in the final second, converting both free throws to send the 3x3 Tall Blacks home empty-handed.

McIntosh was huge in the semifinal, scoring 10 points on 3-of-7 shooting from downtown and 4-4 from the foul-line. McCullough added four points and Kelman-Poto three points and five rebounds.

Chris McIntosh 3x3 Tall Blacks basketball
Chris McIntosh attempts to drive the lane against Latvia. PHOTO: FIBA

Earlier in the tournament, New Zealand went 2-1 in pool play to qualify for the semifinals - beating Egypt 17-13, losing to tournament winners and Olympics-bound Latvia 21-10 and topping Mongolia 12-10 in overtime.

Tonge, called into the team in the absence of big man Tai Wynyard, hit the game-winner, scoring five points (3/4 FG) and grabbing eight rebounds, and Kelman-Poto had four points and five boards in the crucial win over Mongolia.

New Zealand won despite shooting 0-for-12 from deep and just 9-of-32 overall.

In their opener against Egypt, McCullough scored a game-high eight points, while McIntosh had four points and four rebounds, and Kelman-Poto three points and 10 boards. In a one-side game against Latvia, McCullough scored six points and Kelman-Poto four.


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