New Zealand boys will play off for fifth place at the Australian U16 Championships semifinals after a thrilling 64-62 overtime victory against New South Wales Metro on the penultimate day at Tamworth.
The Kiwis were in control most of the journey, leading by 12 in the second quarter and ahead 44-37 heading into the find period. But they conceded seven unanswered points to allow their rivals back in the contest over the dying moments.
North Harbour’s Matt Freeman made a pair of free throws to tie the game up at 56-56 with 16 seconds on the clock and then blocked NSW’s last-ditch attempt to win in regulation.
New Zealand never trailed in extra time, but had to survive one final shot from their opponents to force a second overtime.
Freeman led his side with 14 points, six rebounds and two blocks, while Waitakere West Auckland’s Geronimo Doyle chipped in 13 points.
As a team, NZ generated more opportunities through turnovers and shot marginally better, although the teams returned a combined 36.4% from the field.
They now face West Australia Metro in their final game.
Meanwhile, the Kiwi girls will play off for ninth after overwhelming Northern Territory 80-46, with six players scoring in double figures and New Plymouth’s Connie Poletti narrowly missing a double double (nine points/10 rebounds).
They take on Queensland North in their final outing today.
Australian U16 Championships
Tamworth, New South Wales
New Zealand 64 (Matt Freeman 14, Geronimo Doyle 13, Reuben Porter 11) New South Wales Metro 62
HT 31-24 (16-15)
Q3 44-37 (13-13)
FT 56-56 (12-19)
OT 64-62 (8-6)
New Zealand 80 (Kayla Manuirirangi 14, Krystal Leger-Walker 12, Akiene Reed 11, Laken Wairau 10, Kelcy Ballantyne 10, Maia Wilson 10) Northern Territory 46
HT 30-17 (13-10)
Q3 51-29 (21-12)
FT 80-46 (29-17)