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Tiebreaker Times

2023 FIBA World Cup

FIBA: New Zealand survives RHJ’s big game, Jordan in OT, stays in race

New Zealand notched its first win in Group C, surviving fourth quarter hero Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Jordan in overtime, 95-87, in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Monday.

The 26th-ranked Tall Blacks improved to 1-1 while pushing down the Falcons to 0-2.

A win by USA against Greece later in the day will eliminate Jordan.

“Tough game. We knew it was gonna be tough. Great couple of players there that played exceptionally tonight. Great to get it in overtime but would have loved to get it earlier. It is what it is,” said head coach Pero Cameron.

After Jordan fought back from 74-85 to inch within one, Shea Ili made a tough layup over Ahmad Dwairi followed by a Yannick Wetzell putback for a brand new five-point cushion for the Tall Blacks with 1:08 to go, 81-76.

Hollis-Jefferson was fouled taking a three-pointer with 17 seconds to go, making all three to pull the 33rd-ranked Falcons to within two, 81-83.

New Zealand’s Izayah Le’Afa made two free throws on the other end but RHJ answered with a triple while getting fouled for a rare four-point play to tie the game at 85.

Ili’s attempt for the win missed to send the game to overtime.

The Tall Blacks then made the first six points in extra period and held their own on the defensive end to deny another Falcons fightback.

Le’Afa top-scored for New Zealand with 23 points, five rebounds, and five assists, while Ili had a double-double of 15 points and 10 assists before fouling out in overtime.

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Finn Delany added 14 points, Wetzell delivered 13 including three dunks, while Isaac Fotu got 11 points.

Hollis-Jefferson finished with 39 points but was held to just a point in OT. He also tallied nine rebounds, four assists, and two steals against six turnovers.

Freddy Ibrahim and Dwairi backstopped their naturalized player with 22 and 19 points, respectively. Only five Falcons breached the scoring column.

Both teams will conclude their first-round matchups on Wednesday.

New Zealand will face Greece in the nightcap, while Jordan will battle USA earlier.

The Scores:

New Zealand 95 – Le’Afa 23, Ili 15, Delany 14 Wetzell 13, Fotu 11, Ngatai 9, Te Rangi 7, Cameron 3, Britt 0, Brown 0, Harris 0, Smith-Milner 0.

Jordan 87 – Hollis-Jefferson 39, Ibrahim 22, Dwairi 19, Abu Hawwas 4, Bzai 3, Z. Abbas 0, Alnajdawi 0, Hamarsheh 0, Hammouri 0, Hussein 0, Kanaan 0.

Quarterscores: 21-18, 46-37, 65-57, 85-85, 95-87.

Written By

Just a kid from Cavite trying to make a difference.

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