The New Zealand Tall Blacks bounced back impressively at Quaycentre on Wednesday night but Canada still managed to prevail in overtime winning 103-100 despite 33 points from Corey Webster.
Webster was outstanding for the Tall Blacks showing that not only is he primed for a significant impact at the FIBA World Cup in China starting in two weeks, but for the Breakers in #NBL20.
He not only scored 33 points but had five rebounds and five assists in a tremendous captain’s performance with Mika Vukona, Reuben Te Rangi and Shea Ili all sidelined, and Tom Abercrombie restricted to 17 minutes with foul trouble and Alex Pledger still not 100 per cent.
Despite that, Canada came back from a 15-point first half deficit to appear to have the game won when leading by double-figures both in the fourth quarter and overtime despite being without Kaza Kajami-Keane and Khem Birch, and losing Andrew Nembhard.
In the end, Canada held on for the three-point overtime victory on the back of winning Game 1 the night before 122-88 and splitting the game in Perth with the Australian Boomers.
Phil Scrubb top-scored for Canada with 24 points and six assists while hitting 5/14 from deep. After the game, he was happy for the test New Zealand gave them.
“A lot of respect to them, they played us really tough and I’m glad we were able to pull it out at the end,” Scrubb said.
“But it’s great to play games like that now.”
Kyle Wiltjer added 18 points and five rebounds for Canada with Kevin Pangos contributing 17 points and nine assists, Thomas Scrubb 12 points, five boards and three assists, Oshae Brissett 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Owen Klassen 10 points and 10 boards.
Corey Webster was the star for the Tall Blacks and was proud of their response after Tuesday night.
“I think in the first game we were embarrassed by our own performance and we didn’t play Tall Blacks basketball so we tried to make sure in the second game we came in right from the start and let them know that the first game wasn’t us,” Webster said.
“It’s about growing from here to the World Cup and I’m proud of the boys for how they bounce came out in a bounce back game. We still didn’t get the result but we did a lot of things much better.”
Ethan Rusbatch was another to stand up for New Zealand with 15 points and four rebounds while Rob Loe contributed 12 points and seven rebounds, Tai Webster 11 points, eight boards and five assists, and Isaac Fotu nine points, 10 rebounds and three assists.
Coming off a 34-point loss the night before in the same building and giving up 122 points, the Tall Black came out a significantly different outfit on Wednesday and hit the game’s first four points thanks to Tom Abercrombie and Rob Loe.
Corey Webster then hit a triple and New Zealand was up 7-2 before Loe also connected from deep for a 12-4 start. Alex Pledger, who missed Game 1 through illness, then scored too and the Tall Black had all the momentum to be up 14-4.
Phil Scrubb and Jarrod Kenny with his outstanding mullet then traded triples with New Zealand maintaining momentum to lead 23-13 by quarter-time despite a statement block from Melvin Ejim on Loe.
Isaac Fotu then opened the second quarter with two quick points for New Zealand and after Canada had closed to within two, Corey Webster answered with a three.
But Canada had worked back into the contest after being down by 15 to cut New Zealand’s half-time advantage to just 36-33.
Oshae Brissett then opened the second half by throwing his own layup off the glass to throw home the putback slam but the Tall Blacks stayed on top thanks to another Corey Webster three-pointer.
He scored again to make it a six-point game but Canada was starting to warm up and triples heading towards three quarter-time from Phil Scrubb and Kyle Wiltjer saw them take a 51-48 advantage.
Canada still led 60-59 by three quarter-time but Tai Webster got to the rack for a layup to put New Zealand back on top to start the fourth. Kevin Pangos responded immediately with a triple for Canada, though, with Thomas Scrubb adding another.
Pangos added five more quick points and Canada looked like they were heading for the win but the Tall Blacks had other ideas with another Corey Webster three and then driving bucket from Loe bringing them back within four.
Canada were soon back up eight but the Tall Blacks weren’t going away on this night and when Tai Webster found Loe for a wide open dunk, it was a two-point game. Phil Scrubb hit a triple again to stretch Canada’s lead but Fotu responded with an and-one play.
Tai Webster and Finn Delany both missed free-throws but Corey Webster got to the rack to convert a three-point play to bring scores level. Canada had one last shot but Wiltjer’s three wouldn’t fall.
Then in overtime, Canada flew out of the blocks with seven quick points from Wiltjer and Pangos. They were then up nine with a basket from Ejim and 10 with a Pangos free-throw, and 11 with Pangos step back three, but still New Zealand took the game to the death.
Corey Webster hit another triple, Ethan Rusbatch made a pair of free-throws before Corey Webster hit a tough jumper to make it a two-point game. Wiltjer took it back to four at the line but then Corey Webster nailed another desperation three with four seconds left.
Wiltjer hit both free-throws to put Canada up three but New Zealand had one last chance and Delany’s pass found Tai Webster well but he didn’t get a shot off.
FIBA WORLD CUP EXHIBITION GAME
CANADA BASKETBALL 103 (Phil Scrubb 24, Kyle Wiltjer 18, Kevin Pangos 17)
NEW ZEALAND TALL BLACKS 100 (Corey Webster 33, Ethan Rusbatch 15, Rob Loe 12)