Letters from Spain
NZ coach Anthony Corban checks in from the FIBA World 3×3 Youth Championships at Alcobendas, where the Kiwis are defending mens champions …
Keep up with progress at the FIBA World 3×3 Youth Championships here.
Saturday, September 29
“What an interesting finals day in Madrid.
NZ got up in the repechage game to beat Spain, much to the horror of the locals fans – and there were plenty of them. But that victory came with a price.
Due to our team qualifying third in our pool, we had to play our quarter-final 40 minutes later – against Serbia. This was simply a bridge too far.
Serbia were pumped and we hung in there gallantly, losing 11-17. I can’t fault the commitment of our squad this day, but playing two games within an hour was physically impossible, considering FINALS DAY was played outdoors in the sun in Madrid.
No play-off games, but we will come out of the world championship with a ranking between 5-8 and more respect in the international game of basketball.
The trip has been worthwhile – a stack of college scouts here and some positive feedback in terms of helping our school leavers in 2012 achieve their life dream of an academic/sporting scholarship in the USA.
We wouldn’t have achieved this without the generous support of the Lion Foundation.
Serbia went on to win the final, defeating Team USA in over-time – it took the tournament winner to knock out the defending champion.
France won the bronze medal play-off game with Canada.
Team USA blew out defending champions Spain in the girls final. A fine coaching achievement by the Serbian and Team USA coaches winning their respective finals.
Of note, Australia won the bronze-medal play-off in over-time over Italy. Both Australian teams were well coached.
The standard of athlete at this tournament has been amazing, underlining the challenges that lay ahead improving our development programmes in New Zealand.
A big thank you to Peter Kadar and the team at BBNZ for all their assistance making this happen.
The long haul home begins tomorrow – next stop will be Auckland, 10am Wednesday morning.
Friday, September 28
“Well, we qualified third in our pool on a countback.
Today – briefly – we lost to France 15-20, lost to Canada 15-16 (last-second shot) and beat China 22-8.
Our for and against was better – defensively we are a good unit.
They took us apart – extremely athletic, well drilled
At one stage, the score was 15-3 in France’s favour. We were OK in getting dribble penetration, but their athletic help defence was amazing.
We got into a flow in the last three minutes, going on a 12-5 run
This was a game where I had to acknowledge playing a quality team with quality coaching
We had this game in the bag.
Two poor offensive decisions – taking early two-point jump shots without our big in the paint – hurt us.
Two weak box outs in the last 30 seconds were costly, as well as the last defensive play of the game, when we allowed them dribble penetration and getting a shot off, literally, in the last second (clock went off after the player released the ball).
Gutsy team performance, although we did allow a couple of early two-point shots to get off on us.
Everyone contributed – Alex Talma was strong in the post, Ana Haku attacked the rim with aggression off the dribble, Derone was strong off the dribble and hit some nice open jump shots, and Jay Gerrard, although extremely overpowered physically, took it to China offensively
We play the host nation Spain, tomorrow. Win that and it’s into a quarter-final … then semi and final.
One step at a time.
Time to find game film on Spain, then the planning begins.”
Thursday, September 27
“Coaching and playing basketball is a rollercoaster, as we found out on Day One of the World 3×3 Champs in Madrid.
Firstly, the predicted rain arrived – and remember these world champs are an outdoor event – which meant the organisers had to scramble late Thursday to upgrade the nearby indoor venue. To their credit, they did a pretty good job, but there were some logistical issues that needed to be addressed (eg. first-round teams being on the first bus to leave the hotel, which didn’t happen).
NZ and our first-round opponents Belize were stuck at the hotel until 12.30pm (first round 1pm) waiting for the second bus to arrive.
No 12-second shot clocks on all courts, but a timekeeper on these courts, who called out ’10-11-12′, then that’s a turnover.
However, the expertise of the tournament organisers was impressive in being able to create – at late notice – a six-court indoor facility.
We won three of out four games AND SHOULD HAVE WON THE ONE WE LOST!
That only people that can be blamed was our group for taking a rubbish attitude onto the court.
GAME ONE V BELIZE – NZ WINS
# a well-coached team with talented athletes
# but Ana Haku and Alex Talma overpowered them in the post and rebounding
# Derone Raukawa was a handful in dribble penetration and leading the defensive side of the team
# a huge step up for Jay Gerrard, who knocked down a couple of nice jump shots, but had a few problems dealing with hand pressure from the opposition
GAME TWO V SLOVAKIA – NZ WINS
# another well-organised team
# again Ana and Alex gave them a lot of problems
# Alex was strong offensively back to the basket and did hit a few nice jump shots – also rebounded well
# Ana was strong off the dribble and put in another polished performance
# Derone again was strong in dribble penetration and was a great leader
# another step forward for Jay Gerrard, both offensively and defensively
GAME THREE V POLAND – NZ LOSES BY TWO IN CONTROVERSIAL CIRCUMSTANCES
# score bench misses an Ana Haku lay up – refs were not interested and just waved co-captains Ana and Derone away – despite the team burning their time out to confront the refs
# Derone was fouled taking a two-point shot (three in the five-on-five game) – one ref signals two shots and then the other overrules, saying it was a flop, and Derone fouls out with less than two minutes to go
# earlier in the game, Alex Talma fouls out – don’t ask me how
# NZ plays last about two minutes with TWO PLAYERS and loses by TWO!
# our energy levels were low, we were not focused for this game, and Poland got a sniff of a victory and played great structured 3×3 to beat us
# NZ misses five three throws – a personal foul and tech foul missed in a row – then we take a silly shot off the next possession
# Offensive discipline poor from all players
This was a kick in the guts for the group and this loss could really hurt us on Day Two of the tournament.
GAME FOUR V NETHERLANDS – NZ WINS
# different team in this game
# Focused, disciplined and picked apart a team that came in at late notice to replace Iran
# Alex Talma dominated posting the rim
# Derone was explosive in dribble penetration and led our defensive intensity
# Ana Haku was athletic around the basket and produced another polished display
# Jay Gerrard again lifted his level of performance with some classy offensive decisions.
Tomorrow is going to be the biggest challenge for our group and personally for me, a hell of a task to plot three much-needed winning performances.
We play France in our first game. They are athletic and well coached – the ideal 3×3 unit. Then we have China, who have an amazing playmaker in their group and are a ruthless outside shooting team.
Then it’s Canada, a team I personally have a lot of respect for, as they gave us a hell of a game in Rimini last year.
Of note – Poland came out in the next game after beating us and then defeated China.
Top qualifier goes straight to quarter finals in our group. Second and third placegetters cross over with the other three pools’ seconds and thirds, with the winners of these games into quarter-finals.
We can win all three games tomorrow, but only if we can maintain our concentration and energy levels, and minimise our offensive and defensive mistakes. 3×3 is a cruel game and mistakes are punished.
Australia’s two teams are playing really well. Girls are a hard-working unit and the boy’s team lost a narrow heart-breaker to Russia, the Aussies’ only loss on Day One. Both Australian coaches are doing great jobs with a good group of athletes.
USA women are unbeaten, as are their men. They won narrowly over host nation Spain, scoring a brilliant victory in the closing seconds.
That’s enough from me. Dinner and video session – gonna be a long night, plotting Day Two.”
Wednesday, September 26
“We played Russia yesterday – and simply got over powered.
I made the decision to rest Alex Talma, as another day of rest off his ankles would help when things begin on Friday (he filmed for me).
Russia were big -seven-foot centre – who makes a living in the low post.
Lost both games by eight points and I got out of it what I wanted.
There was no shot clock or referees and decision making with a shorter shot clock will test both teams.
Russia ran a lot of on-balls out of transition and just fed the big man in the post.
I don’t like using excuses, but after flying 33 hours to get there the day before, we were tired before getting on the court.
Defensively, we had a number of break downs – slow or no rotations or boxing out.
Things that can be easily fixed and after watching the film, it became apparent that we had no energy or hustle.
Russia will be a definite medal contender – well-drilled and physical. However, I think they are beatable – four games a day will test their fitness and teams will go looking for the seven-footer late in Days 1-2-3, when he is tired and has to defend the perimeter.
Just for Russia’s men’s team, they had a coach, team physio and interpreter, plus a fifth training player (just in case someone gets injured before the start of the tournament).
Today, we are training and playing Australia in the morning and dependant upon everything, Team USA in the afternoon.
Yesterday, we went to a shopping plaza in the afternoon for an outing out of the hotel. Sight seeing may happen Thursday afternoon (today) or most probably Monday morning (as we have an evening flight out of Madrid).
The hotel is nice enough – pool, sauna upstairs – although getting on the internet is a mission!
Tuesday, September 25
“Well, we finally got to Spain – 33 hours later – three plane rides (a lot of movies) and everyone, bar the aging coach, is in good order.
Staying at The Hotel Amura Alcobendas, out near the airport.
Like all European hotels – prices are ruthless – room bars 5.50 euro (NZ$8.60) for Pringle chips.
And laundry costs are frightful (and I am no cleaning lady) -so the players are doing it themselves.
We are training at the game/tournament venue at 3.30pm local time today (Tuesday) – a shoot around session only.
Australia is here – haven’t seen them (boys and girls) – and one of the Russian teams.
It is my intention to possibly look at a scrimmage/game on Wednesday – as Alex Talma is on “light duties to Friday” due to his ankle problems with tendonitis (will be fine by Friday – just an overload the last couple of weeks).
We intend to get to the basketball museum here on Wednesday/Thursday and get a nice picture of Pero Cameron’s singlet, which is on display there.
Sorry this is short -I am shattered – running on petrol fumes at the moment (so to speak).
Alex, Ana, Jay and Derone are all pretty hyped up at the moment (which is great), and we will be back to full health on Thursday (jet lag etc).”