Tall Blacks keep World Cup dream alive with win over Montenegro

By James Perry

The New Zealand side dominated throughout the game to beat Montenegro 93-83 in Nanjing last night.

The win keeps the Paul Henare coached sides hopes of advancing to the 2nd round of the FIBA World Cup alive. 

Corey Webster carried his hot hand from the opening game on Sunday into last nights match, leading all scorers with 25 points as well as 7 assists and 6 rebounds. Power forward Isaac Fotu also scored 20 points and 7 assists. 

Fotu said after the game the team were confident of getting the win against a team playing at their very first World Cup, "That is not a surprise at all, we felt like we were the better team, better coached and I think we came out and showed that."

Despite the dominant nature of the win over the world number 28, the Tall Blacks still displayed the third-quarter issues they have endured in recent times, allowing Montenegro to go on a 21-13 run, cutting the lead to just one point. Their previous match against Brazil saw the South Americans draw ahead by 16 points after the third quarter, after being 50-50 at half time.

Webster says it's something they need to clean up quickly if they want to advance to the next stage of the World Cup, for the 5th time in a row, "it's what's been killing us lately, we'll work on that."

Fotu says that coming away with the win despite their troublesome third quarter is a testament to the work they have put in in the lead into the tournament, "we kept our cool, they came on a run in that third quarter, but we showed some character and came out with a win. 

"it just shows an accumulation of everything we have worked on in camp. We did our stuff out there, executed well and came out with a win,” he says.

The win temporarily saw the Tall Blacks top Group E, before Brazil tangled with Greece. The Brazilians sneaked a one-point victory over the World number 8 side, who the Tall Blacks play on Thursday night. 

Webster says in order to beat the European powerhouse side, "we're going to have to play damn-near perfect basketball to get the win, but we'll be ready. 

Catch the Tall Blacks match against Greece live on Māori Television, and on our website www.maoritelevision.com from midnight on Thursday. 

Click here to watch TuKaha, a behind the scenes web-series with the Tall Blacks.