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Tiebreaker Times

2016 Manila OQT

Fotu praises Gilas crowd, looks forward to more battles

After a first-hand experience against Gilas Pilipinas, New Zealand Tall Blacks big man Isaac Fotu said he is looking forward to more battles with the Philippines.

The Tall Blacks put an abrupt end to Gilas’ hopes of making it to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in Brazil after an 89-80 win in the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila, Philippines.

But with the Oceania and Asia regions of FIBA merging into one zone — the Asia-Pacific — starting in 2017 for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup and 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualification, there is a big chance New Zealand and Gilas face each other again.

Fotu said he is excited to go up against the nationals in the future.

“Hopefully, it’s fun playing against them. They play a fun style of basketball. They have great fans as well. I am excited for them as well,” Fotu said on Wednesday night.

Fotu finished with 17 points including 3-for-4 shooting from three-point land, to go with five rebounds and three assists in the win.

The hardworking big man disclosed that in order to prepare for a hostile environment, New Zealand watched Gilas’ opener against France the other night to get a feel of how it would look like in their game.FIBA-OQT-Day-2-Philippines-vs.-New-Zealand-Blatche-7387 Fotu praises Gilas crowd, looks forward to more battles 2016 Manila OQT Basketball New Zealand News  - philippine sports news

“That was the plan so won’t be so shocked in the game today. We were used to their fans. They got their home crowd (behind them). It was an awesome atmosphere, but we got the win,” he said.

Still, Fotu also said the Gilas faithful made a difference, and that the Tall Blacks were just fortunate to hammer out a win.

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“I think the crowd made it very difficult for us. They are a great crowd for their home team. But we had to just keep fighting. They did the same. Very good Philippines team but we came out with the win,” Fotu said.

New Zealand will play France on Thursday with a chance to top Group B and avoid Canada in the semifinals.

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