The Tall Blacks led for most of the contest but ultimately couldn’t pull through, losing to Australia 73-79 on Saturday.
New Zealand had their noses in front all the way up until the fourth quarter, playing tremendously on both ends of the court. However, on the second night of a back-to-back, the Tall Blacks seemingly ran out of gas and couldn’t close it out.
Shea Ili led the way for New Zealand with 22 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the field. Reuben Te Rangi added 12 points, while Thomas Abercrombie chipped in 10. For the game, the Tall Blacks shot just 3-of-17 from three and committed 14 turnovers; a recipe that generally doesn’t lead to success.
Nicholas Kay scored 21 points for Australia on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting from downtown. Australia shot a tidy 9-of-20 from three and turned the ball over just seven times. While it was tough going early on, they managed to stick with it and make a run late in the game, toppling an inefficient Tall Blacks squad.
New Zealand will have a day off before squaring off with Canada on Monday. With Australia all but locked in to secure the No. 1 spot in the pool, the Tall Blacks need a win to advance to the semi-finals.