Matthews makes his­tory in In­dia

Northern Outlook - - LOCAL - JONATHAN LEASK

Ka­iapoi bas­ket­baller He­len Matthews and the New Zealand women’s U17 team have made his­tory in Ban­ga­lore by be­com­ing the first ju­nior women’s na­tional side to qual­ify for a bas­ket­ball World Cup.

New Zealand went down 60-43 to China in the bronze medal game on Satur­day (NZT) to fin­ish fourth at its first

Asian Cham­pi­onship ap­pear­ance, achiev­ing their ob­jec­tive of qual­i­fy­ing for the U17 World Cup in Be­larus next July. New Zealand coach, North Can­ter­bury’s Lori McDaniel, praised her team’s ef­fort.

‘‘We now have the ex­cit­ing prospect of pre­par­ing for the World Cup next year. This team have worked hard, made his­tory and should be re­ally, re­ally proud of them­selves.’’

Matthews, the lone South Is­land player in the squad, played in all six matches. In the group phase, New Zealand lost to even­tual cham­pi­ons Aus­tralia 43-61 but beat Ko­rea 74-44 and Chi­nese Taipei 71-66.

That had them meet Thailand in the al­limpor­tant quar­ter-fi­nal, and an 80-52 win had New Zealand claim one of the four qual­i­fy­ing spots for the World Cup.

Ja­pan then out­classed the Kiwi’s 97-65 in the semi-fi­nals be­fore the loss to China.

He­len Matthews

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