Buzzer beater breaks NZ hearts
THE Tall Blacks will play off for bronze in the men’s basketball at the Commonwealth Games after a last-gasp semifinal loss to Canada.
New Zealand lost 88-86 after Mamadou Gueye landed a threepointer on the buzzer yesterday on the Gold Coast.
The young Canadian side were cruising, up by 21 points (74-53) in the third quarter, and led by 17 at the end of that term (75-58).
New Zealand fought back in the final quarter and led 86-85 with five seconds left after Shea Ili made one of two free throws.
Gueye was the hero for Canada, sinking the clutch three to lead his side into today’s gold medal match against Australia and the upset win.
After overcoming Canada 80-62 in pool play, New Zealand were heavy favourites for the clash, but delivered an errorridden display, highlighted by an alarming 26 turnovers.
New Zealand will take on Scotland in the bronze medal match today.
The Tall Blacks showed plenty of heart to pull themselves back into the contest in the final quarter after they looked dead and buried, down by 21 late in the third quarter.
Ili provided New Zealand with the spark they needed, netting 12 of their first 15 points in the last term.
Back-to-back dunks from Tom Abercrombie had New Zealand ahead 85-83 with 1.07 left.
Canada’s leading scorer Ammanuel Diressa replied at the other end of the court to lock up the score with 51 ticks remaining.
Ili briefly put New Zealand ahead only for Guyeye to break their hearts as the buzzer sounded.
The Tall Blacks were left to rue a sloppy first three quarters, where they were out-hustled and out-passioned by their less experienced opponent.
Turnovers killed the Paul Henare-coached New Zealand side throughout the contest, committing 15 for the first half.
Canada came out firing, racing out to a 22-10 first quarter lead with New Zealand hampered by poor shooting and seven early turnovers.
Vukona was a force on the glass with 15 rebounds, including nine defensive boards.
Australia thrashed Scotland in the other semifinal 103-46 with five Boomers scoring in double digits. Canada 88 (Ammanuel Diressa 22, Conor Morgan 19, Munis Tutu 17) 86 (Shea Ili 23, Mika Vukona 13, Tom Abercrombie 13, Rob Loe 9)
22-16, 45-42, 75-58.