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Tall Ferns off to a flying start in pursuit of Olympic dream

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Korea upset tournament favourites China in the Olympic Qualifying series, putting the pressure on the Sky Sport Tall Ferns to continue their winning ways this coming weekend.

Tonight the Sky Sport Tall Ferns demolished the Philippines at Trusts Arena in Auckland. They won in impressive fashion, 111-54.

The Tall Ferns enjoyed good production from Tessa Boagni and Penina Davidson who led the New Zealand scoring with 16 points apiece. There were also major contributions from the experienced trio of Ashleigh Karaitiana (13 points and 9 rebounds), Toni Farnworth (12 points) and Natalie Taylor (11 points). Captain Kalani Purcell was her usual busy self, adding 10 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals to a brace of points.

"I expected that everyone would be nervous so credit to everyone who came out and put a lot of energy into our defence to blow the nerves off and start the game in a positive way," said Tall Ferns Head Coach Guy Molloy.

"Credit to the Philippines who battled away despite being outsized because it is difficult. We had the opportunity to play them twice earlier this year so we were able to put a better game plan in place.

"This game was over at half time on the back of our ability to run and play good defence. So it’s a credit to our players how hard they have worked in the interim to get into better shape between Asia Cup and now," added Molloy.

Kalani Purcell was naturally delighted with the team’s performance.

"We really tried to work on our defence to try and get a transition game and I think we did that pretty well. It was nice to be in front of friends and family, and you can sort of see them out of the corner of your eye which I don’t think any of us have had the opportunity to do very often," said Purcell.

With the China match on Saturday and Korea on Sunday, the Tall Ferns know they have plenty of work ahead.

"I still believe we have to win two games and maybe margins will come into it, you never know how tournaments pan out. That was a great win for Korea against China and unexpected. We know we need another result to go our way to be a chance. We will get a good plan together and come out trying to win the next one," said Molloy.

Farnworth opened the scoring in the game, five points in the quarter from the Canterbury guard helping the hosts to a 24-17 lead at the first break.

Back-to-back baskets from Micaela Cocks stretched the Ferns lead and when Davidson hit the double figure mark the Tall Ferns were 38-20 to the good.

The visitors were enjoying plenty of local support, but they had little to cheer until diminutive guard Ana Castillo raised their spirits with a long three. The Tall Ferns went on to dominate the second period (36-11) to lead 60-28 at half-time.

Chevannah Paalvast (9 points), playing on the court she played her junior representative basketball on, made the opening two scores for the hosts in the second half but it was the Philippines that made the better start to the period.

Farnworth became the second Kiwi into double figures as the Tall Ferns steadied and headed to the three-quarter break with an 83-47 lead.

Karaitiana took the Tall Ferns score beyond the 100 mark and when Ella Fotu converted in transition all 12 New Zealand players had contributed to the victory.

The Sky Sport Tall Ferns next assignment is at 5.30pm on Saturday evening when they take on China.

Final score:

Tall Ferns 111 - Boagni 16, Davidson 16, Karaitiana 13, Farnworth 12, Taylor 11,

Philippines 54 - A Bernardino 17, K Hayes 10, J Pontejos 10

In the other game on Day 1 of the Olympic Qualifying Series Korea pulled off a stunning result defeating China 81-80 in an exciting contest.

When China took the lead for the first time in the game (80-77) with under a minute to play it looked as if the World #8 ranked team would steal the win.

However Korea (#18), who had been terrific all game, found scores from Jung Eun Kim (21 points) and Hyejin Park to retake the lead. China had one final possession to win the game but the Korean defence stood firm to complete a deserved victory.

Korea were led by Las Vegas Sparks WNBA centre Ji Su Park who scored a game high 23 points.

The top two teams of this event in Auckland with go through to the next and final round in February.

SKY SPORT TALL FERNS TEAM

Stella Beck (Melbourne Boomers)

Brooke Blair (Rockhampton Cyclones)

Tessa Boagni (Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats)

Micaela Cocks (Townsville Fire)

Penina Davidson (Melbourne Boomers/Harbour Breeze)

Toni Farnworth (Melbourne Boomers)

Ella Fotu (Harbour Breeze)

Ashleigh Karaitiana (Southern District Spartans, Australia)

Charlisse Leger-Walker (Waikato Wizards/St Peter’s School, Cambridge)

Chevannah Paalvast (Sunshine Coast Rip, Australia)

Kalani Purcell (Melbourne Boomers/Auckland Dream)

Natalie Taylor (Auckland Dream/Southern District Spartans, Australia)

Head Coach - Guy Molloy

Assistant Coach - Aik Ho

Assistant Coach - Jody Cameron

Manager - Lisa Wallbutton

Physio - Lidia Belles

More information - Women’s Olympic Qualifying Series in Auckland

Schedule: Day Tickets start from only $8.50 (two games per day):

- Thurs 14 Nov, 5pm. KOREA V CHINA

- Thurs 14 Nov, 7:30pm. NEW ZEALAND V PHILIPPINES

- Sat 16 Nov, 3pm. PHILIPPINES V KOREA

- Sat 16 Nov, 5:30pm. CHINA V NEW ZEALAND

- Sun 17 Nov, 3pm. PHILIPPINES V CHINA

- Sun 17 Nov, 5:30pm. KOREA V NEW ZEALAND

Venue: The Trusts Arena, Auckland

Tickets: on at Ticketek.co.nz

Follow: @TallFerns on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Hashtags: #TallFerns #GirlsGotGame

Watch: Live broadcast on Sky Sport

Website: www.TallFerns.basketball

Event website: http://www.fiba.basketball/pre-oqtwomen/asia/2019/

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