|9||J. KENCH||Did not play|
|12||B. ANTHONY||Did not play|
|15||A. PLEDGER||Did not play|
|6||F. CAUSEUR||Did not play|
|12||N. DE COLO*||31||3/8||37.5||1/3||33.3||2/5||40||2/2||100||0||4||4||4||5||1||1||0||10|
|Min||Minutes played||Tot||Total rebounds||BS||Block Shots|
|%||Shooting percentage||PF||Personal fouls||*||Starters|
IZMIR (FIBA World Championship) – The evergreen Pero Cameron helped New Zealand claim a famous 82-70 victory over France to claim third place in Group D and set up a showdown with Russia in Istanbul.
Cameron delivered five crucial points down the stretch as France threatened to overrun their Oceania opponents. Kirk Penney (25 points) and Mika Vukona (15 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists) also made big plays as Les Bleus had cut a 13 point deficit to six thanks to Yannick Bokolo (11 points) and Alain Koffi.
While France would lead 20-17 at quarter time it was the Tall Blacks who started quicker, racing to 11-3 after five minutes behind two triples from Penney and one from Thomas Abercrombie. The French defence got their hooks in after that, and Nando De Colo (10 points) connecting twice from the perimeter France edged in front.
New Zealand were not deterred though, with five points each from Casey Frank and Mika Vukona, along with a triple from Cameron saw the Tall Blacks surge ahead by 10 points with 2:22 remaining in the second. When Cameron fed Lindsay Tait with a sublime pass the half time score was 39-25.
Challenge as they might France, behind eight points from Gelabale, couldn’t make ground in the third quarter as Penney score nine points for the term, and the Tall Blacks forced five turnovers.
France started making plays late in the fourth quarter and were in good position to keep their margin of defeat below 12 points, which would have allowed them to come in third place and avoid facing Turkey in the Eight-Finals.
Alain Koffi's two free-throws with 21 seconds remaining cut the Tall Blacks' advantage to 75-68. New Zealand called timeout and when play resumed, Tait indbounded the ball to Penney behind the arc in the middle of the court and as the veteran released his shot, France's Nicolas Batum fell into him and was called for a foul.
Penney's shot went in and he sank the free-throw for a 79-68 advantage. New Zealand fouled Yannick Bokolo immediately and he made both attempts to reduce the Kiwis' lead to 79-70.
But France failed to foul in the closing seconds and allowed Abercrombie to launch a three-point attempt that he banked in from the left with six seconds to go.
Batum put up a long jump shot at the buzzer but missed, assuring the Tall Blacks of the 12-point victory they needed to face Russia in the Eight-Finals.
France, who were second before the day's play, dropped to fourth and must now face tournament hosts Turkey.
Nando De Colo (player, France): We played a bad game. We were not ready for the fight, we didn’t play our game. We need to play heavy defence and we didn’t. Now, we need to get back on the court and be focused on what we might do.
Now we play Turkey at home, they have a good team, now we must show what we can do on the court. We must play in defence like we did in the first three or four games, and in offence we must play together and pass the ball.
Vincent Collet (coach, France): We played very, very bad, right from the beginning. We came back at the end of the first quarter, but the worst one was the second one. The attitude we had showed in the first four games we didn’t have in the second quarter.
Even though we came back we were running behind them the whole game. We left the most difficult until the end, we wanted to lose by 11 or less to avoid Turkey, but even that we couldn’t do, not doing the foul on the last possession. We got what we deserved.
Mika Vukona (player, New Zealand): Everyone in our locker room is pretty ecstatic we got the win.
Nenad Vucinic (coach, New Zealand): We don’t know if this is going to be any easier, playing Turkey in Turkey is a monumental task, but playing Russia who are in form, well coached and a good team is going to be very difficult for us.
I think we played the game with the spirit of the Tall Blacks, we were undersized and we managed to almost out-rebound France as well. France are a very good team, well coached, but the pressure wasn’t on us it was probably on them.
I don’t want to take anything away from my guys, I am proud of them, a lot of people don’t realise that we have four semi-professional players on our team, and we are so happy that we still punch above our weight.