May 19, 2019

New Zealand exit FIBA World Basketball Champs – Oh those Russians

My name is Andrey Vorontsevich and I claim this ball for Mother Russia!, Nah bugger off mate you might be taller but I am better looking says Mika Vukona.

The New Zealand Tall Blacks have bowed out of the FIBA World basketball championships in Turkey today, going down 78-56 to Russia in their round of 16 clash.

It was the land of the giants as 2 metre plus Sergey Monya, Timofey Mozgov and Sasha Kaun shut down the kiwis offence.

The Russians had done their homework and put the heat on the Tall Blacks top scorer, Kirk Penney getting him into early foul trouble along with playmaker Mika Vukona.

New Zealand have done well to reach the knockout rounds at this tournament with an aging team mixed with promising youth, but their lack of depth off the bench was exposed by Russia.

As for the Russians, their reward is a quarter-final clash with the United States. The US overwhelmed Angola 121-66 in their round of 16 clash to set up a classic ‘cold war’ match-up. Nostalgia is well and truly alive.

If the US think this will be a training run against the Russians they might just come unstuck. Russia will be up for this one and if they can concentrate on playing and not emotion then they might be able to put some surprise scoring runs on like they did against New Zealand. Create some pressure with the scoreboard and even the mighty United States can look ordinary.