In their first competition in over a year, the New Zealand Tall Blacks showed their pedigree against India, taking a 101-46 triumph to open Group A action in the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, Thursday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
The burly Tall Blacks bullied the 80th-ranked team in the world right from the get-go, racing to a 20-2 lead and never looking back.
“First of all, it’s just nice to get back on the court again,” said New Zealand assistant coach Daryl Cartwright. “This is our first international in two years.
“We are happy despite the limited practice time we had – we only had time. Our players were hungry and were keen to represent the country. We are happy with the win overall,” he continued.
During the first 10 minutes of action, the Kiwis forced the Indians to commit nine turnovers that led to 11 points. Moreover, New Zealand only allowed India to shoot 3-of-10 from the field while going 13-of-24 on their end to take a 32-8 lead.
Tom Vodanovich scored 16 of his 21 points in the opening frame. The player from Sydney went 8-of-13 from the field, knocking down three triples.
New Zealand then somewhat let its guard down in the second frame that saw India put up 17 points on the scoreboard. But the Kiwis remained razor-sharp on the defensive end in the last 20 minutes of the contest. They limited India to 10 and 11 points, respectively, in the third canto and final frame, respectively.
All in all, India turned the ball over 25 times which led to 26 points for the Tall Blacks.
Rob Loe also tallied a double-double for New Zealand with 15 points and 10 rebounds, to go along with six assists. Ethan Rusbatch got 18 points on three treys, while Taylor Britt added 11 points.
Former La Salle Green Archer Taane Samuel played 11 minutes in the contest, producing five points and three rebounds.
“We know the quality of their team,” said India head coach Veselin Matic. “We are sad about the quality of play – we were not shooting well while giving them the opportunity to play.”
Sahaij Pratap Singh Sekhon was the only Indian player in double-digits, finishing with 10 points.
Former G League Ignite recruit Princepal Singh was limited to just seven points on 3-of-7 shooting with four rebounds.
Up next for India is Gilas tomorrow at 6:00 PM. The Tall Blacks face the hosts as well on Sunday at 7:00 PM.
“We are coming here to learn after two years of not playing. It’s an exciting time because we have young players. They are the future of Indian basketball,” said Matic.
New Zealand 101 – Vodanovich 21, Rusbatch 18, Loe 15, Britt 11, Fahrensohn 9, Prewster 6, Gold 6, Cook-Green 6, Samuel 5, Bezzant 4, Harris 0, Wynyard 0.
India 46 – Sekhon 10, Bhriguvanshi 8, Singh P. 7, Singh A. 5, Krishnan 4, Prince 4, Hafeez 2, Rawat 2, Brar 2, Annadurai 2, Kumar 0, Manjunatha 0.
Quarterscores: 32-8, 52-25, 70-35, 101-46.
The second game of each playdate is also livestreamed on SMART Sports.