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Poor-shooting Tall Blacks lose to Poland

Updated: Jun 29

Reuben Te Rangi Tall Blacks basketball
The Tall Blacks shot just 31 percent from the field and 23 percent on three-point attempts. PHOTO: FIBA

The Tall Blacks have fallen by 29 points in their final warm-up game ahead of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.


Poor shooting condemned Pero Cameron's side to an 88-59 defeat to Poland at a raucous Spodek Arena in Katowice, Poland on Friday (Saturday NZ Time), two days after losing to Finland at the buzzer.


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The Tall Blacks shot just 31 percent (21-of-67) from the floor and 23 percent (10-of-42) on three-point attempts, with two leading guards Corey Webster and Izayah Le'afa and forward Finn Delany held scoreless.


Webster went 0-for-11 from the field, missing all eight three-points shots, while Le'afa went 0-for-6 off the bench, missing four threes.


The Tall Blacks trailed by just three after the first quarter – thanks in part to eight points from forward Sam Mennenga - but Poland went on an 18-2 run in the second to extend their lead. While New Zealand held their own in the third, the hosts pulled away in the final quarter.


Guard Shea Ili led the Tall Blacks with 17 points (7/10 FG, 2/4 3pt), with two blocks, while Mennenga added 12 points (4/5 FG, 3/4 3pt) and five boards and Tom Vodanovich chipped in with 10 points (4/10 FG, 2/5 3pt) and five rebounds.



Forward Reuben Te Rangi added seven points and guard Flynn Cameron six, while young big man Ben Gold scored five points late in the fourth.


Poland was paced by their captain Mateusz Ponitka, who racked up 29 points (8/11 FG, 4/4 3pt, 9/12 FT), along with six rebounds and six assists, while Michał Sokołowski had 17 points (6/9 FG, 4/4 3pt) and seven boards.


NBA star Jeremy Sochan was held to just seven points but Poland were lights-out from deep, hitting 12-of-21 from outside the arc.


Next up for the Tall Blacks is the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Piraeus, Greece, where they will initially face Croatia and Slovenia in group play as they chase one spot at the Paris Olympics.


Poland 88 (Mateusz Ponitka 29, Michal Sokolowski 17) Tall Blacks 59 (Shea Ili 17, Sam Mennenga 12, Tom Vodanovich 10). 1Q: 21-18, HT: 45-30, 3Q: 62-44

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