Tall Ferns suffer heavy defeat to France

Tall Ferns suffer heavy defeat to France

Tall Ferns team huddle during the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup.
Photo: photosport

The Tall Ferns have ended their Olympic basketball qualifying event with a heavy 94-39 loss to a clinical France in Xi’an, China.

New Zealand were reduced to ten players for their third and final game of the FIBA Olympic Qualifiers, with injuries to key players Tera Reed and Dale McKenna.

The Tall Ferns were already out of contention for the 2024 Olympics after a heartbreaking loss to Puerto Rico.

The world 7th-ranked France came out firing in the first half, playing suffocating defence on the young Tall Ferns.

A fatigued New Zealand managed to hold France to 33 points in the second half while scoring 22 of their own, but New Zealand fell to their third loss in three games.

Esra McGoldrick led the Tall Ferns with 10 points – her third straight game in double figures – and 6 rebounds, while Tayla Dalton was a spark-plug with 9 points on 4-6 shooting from the field.

New Zealand shot just 30 percent and committed 30 turnovers against a relentless French defence.

The Tall Ferns had no answer for French guard Gabby Williams, who scored 13 of her team’s first 17 points on 6-6 shooting; Williams finishing with 21 on the night.

France out-rebounded the Kiwis 40-28 and dominated all facets of the game.

Although France are already assured of an Olympic spot as the hosts, their unbeaten run at the Olympic Qualifier – including a 32-point win over world no.2 ranked China – should see them heading to Paris in July as a medal favourite.

Reflecting on the tournament, Tall Ferns coach Guy Molloy said the New Zealand programme could only benefit from playing against the best teams in the world.

“We had many injuries and brought a very young team to the tournament, and I’m pleased they got an opportunity to play against such a powerful team as France and got this valuable experience; which will serve the program well for the future,” Molloy said.

“We’ll go back and begin again with the qualification process; we introduced a lot of young new players into the progamme and we’re expecting a number of senior players to return from injury. So we’ll begin all over again and utilise the experience we’ve learned this time through – and hopefully get to another major tournament.”

Tayla Dalton said although the squad was disappointed by the overall results, the experience gained was a reward in itself.

“We came here with one goal and that was to qualify for the Olympics, so it’s a hard one heading home without receiving that ticket. But we got a lot of experience from this tournament and now it’s time to put out heads down and get to work for future tournaments to come,” Dalton said.

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