New Zealand concluded its FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 campaign on a high note by defeating Egypt, 88-86, to remain in contention in Asia and Oceania’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament race at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Saturday.
The Tall Blacks put an end to their two-game losing streak, finishing with a 2-3 record in Group N, tied with the Pharaohs as of the current moment. Mexico (1-3) has the opportunity to create a three-way tie later in the day if it wins against Jordan.
With Egypt’s loss and South Sudan’s victory over Angola earlier, the Bright Stars secured their ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympics as the top African team in this tournament.
Head coach Pero Cameron expressed his satisfaction with the team’s positive finish, saying, “A positive finish for us in a really tough game. Hats off to my players for putting in their effort, and it came down to the wire, so yeah, great effort.”
Egypt mounted a comeback from a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter, with Ehab Amin, Amr Zahran, Amr El Gendy, and Anas Mahmoud stepping up to tie the game at 86 with 1:04 remaining.
In the subsequent play, the Tall Blacks missed three consecutive shots but managed to secure the offensive rebound thrice. On the fourth attempt, Reuben Te Rangi drew a foul on Amin with the Pharaohs in the penalty.
Te Rangi made both free throws, giving them an 88-86 advantage with 17.0 seconds left.
El Gendy then controlled the clock on the other end of the floor before attempting a deep shot with four seconds remaining, but it missed.
Izayah Le’Afa was fouled with 0.4 seconds left and intentionally missed the second free throw to run down the clock.
Finn Delany and Le’Afa were the top performers for the Tall Blacks, both contributing 27 points, while Isaac Fotu added 14.
Amin and El Gendy led the way for the Pharaohs with 19 points each, with Amin also recording nine assists. Mahmoud scored 16 points on an impressive 8-of-9 shooting from the field and grabbed nine rebounds.
Assem Marei chipped in with 11 points.
New Zealand 88 – Delany 27, Le’Afa 27, Fotu 14, Te Rangi 9, Wetzell 6, Ngatai 3, Ili 2, Britt 0, Brown 0, Cameron 0, Harris 0, Smith-Milner 0.
Egypt 86 – Amin 19, El Gendy 19, Mahmoud 16, Marei 11, Gardner 7, Zahran 5, Elgizawy 5, Oraby 2, Abdelgawad 1, Hussein 1, Aboushousha 0, Moussa 0.
Quarterscores: 22-25, 47-35, 68-61, 88-86.