Sport | Basketball

Tall Blacks put up valiant fight against powerful Greece

The skill and experience of NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and his Greece team has knocked the Tall Blacks out of the FIBA Basketball World Cup last night. The Greeks won their match in Nanjing 103-97, meaning the Tall Blacks will now play off in the minor classification finals.

It was an impressive display by the New Zealanders, though, who only trailed by five points at three-quarter time. Once again Corey Webster was the most dominant player on the court for the Tall Blacks, scoring 31 points. However, the 2.11m Milwaukee Bucks star Antetokounmpo, nicknamed the ‘Greek Freak’, was just too dominant. He finished with a double-double of 24 points (6/10 FG), 10 rebounds and 6 assists, and was 11 of 15 from the foul line.

Antetokounmpo wasn’t alone in his efforts, with Ioannis Papapetrou going 6 of 8 from the floor and 4 of 6 from the three point line to add 16 for the Greeks. Point guard Nick Calathes also had 14 points and 5 assists.

There will be at least a feeling that the Tall Blacks left it all out on the court against a quality opponent. The shooting stats were impressive – 53 percent from the floor and 43 from the three point line, however this does mark the first time in five tournaments that they have not made it to the knockout stages of a World Cup.

Brazil, who the Tall Blacks lost to in their first game, ended up topping the pool and advance along with Greece. The Tall Blacks now await to see who their opponents will be in the best of the rest playoffs.

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

Greece 103 (Giannis Antetokounmpo 24, Ioannis Papapetrou 16, Nick Calathes 14, Georgios Printezis 13, Thanasis Antetokounmpo 10)

New Zealand 97 (Corey Webster 31, Tom Abercrombie 18, Tai Webster 17, Isaac Fotu 15) 1Q: 28-19; HT: 51-44; 3Q: 71-66