The Northland Age
Bigger Jordan bully green Tall Blacks
An inexperienced Tall Blacks squad has suffered a second loss in as many games in the Middle East, falling 92-75 to Jordan in New Zealand’s final World Cup qualifier game of the year.
With the scores tied at the end of the first half, Jordan caught fire after the main interval while fatigue set in for New Zealand; the Tall Blacks guilty of 10 second-half turnovers and 3-14 shooting from outside, while also losing the rebounding battle 38-33.
The Tall Blacks were also hampered by foul trouble for much of the game, as evidenced by the 21-7 free throw discrepancy in favour of the physically imposing Jordan side.
Dar Tucker was a differencemaker with 31 points (6-10 from downtown), with the undersized visitors unable to contain Ahmad Al Dwairi who racked up 22 points and 12 rebounds. Guard Freddy Ibrahim also had a strong game for Jordan with 9 points and 14 assists.
Tohi Smith-Milner again led the Kiwis with 17 points, while Hyrum Harris had a solid 15 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists; Ethan Rusbatch adding 14 (including 4 triples) and Taylor Britt tallying 12 points and 6 assists. Jordan Hunt and Alex McNaught each contributed 6 points off the bench, McNaught also dishing out four assists. The result came three days after New Zealand suffered their first defeat in qualifying play, losing 77-65 to Lebanon in Beirut.
With New Zealand having already secured a place at next year’s World Cup, head coach Pero Cameron chose an inexperienced squad — including three debutants — for the two-game tour.
He was nevertheless unhappy with a result, which reduces his team’s record to six wins and two The Tall Blacks will regroup ahead of home games against Saudi Arabia in Christchurch on February 24, and a re-match with Lebanon in Wellington on February 27.