Monday, 27 July 2009

Canada finishes 2nd in Italian Tournament

The Canadian Men's National team finished the first of two pre-qualifying tournaments with a 2-1 record, good for second place by comfortably defeating New Zealand today in Italy. Italy finished 3-0 by defeating winless Portugal in today's other game. Next up for Canada are a pair of games in Italy against Turkey and then their final game on the continent against Italy.

Wed. July 29 - vs. Turkey Bormio, Italy

Thurs. July 30 - vs. Turkey Bormio, Italy

Sat. August 1 - vs. Italy Mogliano Veneto, Italy

Tall Blacks fall to Canada

The New Zealand Tall Blacks ran into a hot-shooting Canadian team as they fell 90-68 in their final game at the Trentino Cup in Trento, Italy.

The Canadians shot 57 percent (33/58) from the field, including 7-of-14 on long-range attempts, as they pulled away from New Zealand in the third period for their second straight win in Italy.

Kirk Penney, the Tall Blacks captain, top-scored with 14 points, while rookie swingman Tom Abercrombie finished with 12 points in a fatigued performance from New Zealand, who dropped to 1-4 on their eight-game Euro Trip.

The Tall Blacks remained close until the third period, down just four points, 38-34, at halftime but things quickly got out of hand.

"Definitely we hit the wall today in a number of ways," said Tall Blacks head coach Nenad Vucinic.

"We struggled with Canada's inside game at both ends of the court. They started the third quarter with a zone and we didn't adjust well to that. We didn't have enough of an inside option to make them collapse and open things up.

"They zoned for the whole third quarter and we missed some open shots, the lead ballooned to 20 points and the game was over."

The Tall Blacks, out-rebounded 45-34 overall but winning the offensive rebound count 18-13, were out-scored 29-14 in the third, trailing 67-48 with a quarter to play.

And the fourth quarter charge never arrived.

"It was the fifth game in six days, so we were feeling it, it was definitely a fatigue issue today. You could see it more than anyone on Kirk. He's been the only one that's been playing big big minutes.

"They were marking him pretty tight and he's in a position where he's marking their best player too, so he's got to put effort in defensively. He definitely looked tired in that second half."

Penney's three-point shooting epitomised that, converting 2-of-9 from distance as he went 6-of-15 from the field, with three assists.

New Zealand, who put up 13 more field-goal attempts in the game, shot 39 percent (28/71) from the floor and 10-of-28 (36 percent) on threes and only got to the foul-line 10 times.

Forward Mika Vukona finished a point away from a double-double with nine points (3/7 FG, 0/1 3pt, 3/4 FT), grabbing six offensive rebounds in his game-high 11 boards, also with three steals and two assists.

Abercrombie had his third double digit scoring game of the tour, going 5-of-14 from the field with four rebounds and a team-high four assists. Starting centre Alex Pledger pulled down six rebounds to go with his six points (3/5 FG) and two blocks.

For Canada, Andy Rautins, son of head coach Leo Rautins, hit on four of his six three-point shots and scored a game-high 20 points, while Levon Kendall had 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting.

Penney, who averaged 25.7 points per in three games at the Trentino Cup, had eight points and Abercrombie seven points at the half for New Zealand, who trailed 18-15 at quarter time.

The Tall Blacks now head to Belgium for back-to-back games on Thursday and Friday mornings (NZ time), before finishing their eight-game tour against Finland on Monday.

Penny Hemmed as Tall Blacks Thumped

An unforgiving schedule and the double teaming of prolific scorer Kirk Penney contributed to New Zealand's latest setback on their European basketball tour in Italy today.

The Tall Blacks ended their Trentino Cup with a whimper as Canada cruised to a 90-68 victory.

Penney was well contained by the Canadians and the sharp shooting guard was limited to just 14 points as the Tall Blacks again struggled to maintain a scoring momentum after the main break.

In contrast the Canadians were hot offensively, shooting 57 per cent from the field and an impressive 50 per cent from three-point range.

The Tall Blacks were hanging in at halftime at 34-38 but clocked off in the penultimate term as Canada outscored them 29-14 - the decisive break of the game.

"We definitely hit the wall in a number of ways," admitted Tall Blacks head coach Nenad Vucinic.

" We struggled with Canada's inside game at both ends of the court. They started the third quarter with a zone and we didn't adjust well to that."

Canada's lead ballooned to 19 points heading into the home stretch, an impregnable advantage.

Vucinic said a schedule of five games in six days finally took its toll, particularly on Penney who tired in the second half. "He's been the only one that's been playing big, big minutes ," he said.

"They were marking him pretty tight and he's in a position where he's marking their best player too."

Penney's three-point shooting emphasised his tough night struggles - he converted just two from nine and nailed just six for 15 from the field after entering the game with a 25.7 point tournament average.

Tom Abercrombie (12) was the other Tall Black to reach double figures.

The Tall Blacks now have a one-win four loss on their eight match tour.

They now head to Belgium for two matches before wrapping up their European trip against Finland on Monday.

Canada 90 (Andy Rautins 20, Levon Kendall 15) New Zealand 68 (Kirk Penney 14, Tom Abercrombie 12) Halftime: 38-34

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