Tall Blacks come up short against Brazil
Thu, 28 Jun 2012 7:03a.m.
The New Zealand men's basketball team, who are preparing for a last-chance bid to get to the Olympics, have been beaten by Brazil 73-49 in the opening match of a tournament in Sao Paulo.
The Tall Blacks, who are without injured stars Kirk Penney and Tom Abercrombie, arrived from Canberra just two days earlier and also had to contend with a Brazilian side bolstered by NBA centres Nene Hilario and Anderson Varejo.
Coach Nenad Vucinic opted for 32-year-old "rookie" Hayden Allen to fill Penney's shooting guard spot and moved captain Mika Vukona into Tom Abercrombie's small forward position.
The Tall Blacks got off to a positive start, with veteran Casey Frank, who replaced Vukona at power forward, hitting from the arc for an early lead.
But the match quickly swung the home side's way and they were up 19-9 after 10 minutes.
Without Penney and Abercrombie, New Zealand struggled to score, shooting at just 25 per cent from the field in the opening half to be behind 33-16 at the main break.
Teenage debutant Tai Webster produced a six-point flurry late in the third quarter, but the Tall Blacks trailed 54-32 with one period to go.
Webster ended as his side's leading scorer with eight points.
New Zealand next face Greece, who beat Nigeria 88-76 in the day's earlier game.
The Tall Blacks are preparing for an Olympic qualifying tournament in Venezuela, where they have to finish in the top three to claim a place in London.
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