As the crowd gathered to see the first match of the day, the teams received their pep talk from their coaches and got in the zone to play their hearts out ahead of the most anticipated match of the day.
Although the experienced players from New Zealand thought this would be an easy game, the underdogs from New Caledonia proved them wrong with their strong beginning and solid performance.
The first quarter proceeded with very even and intense gameplay, and the scores remained relatively even, with points going back and forth. Just as the siren sounded to mark the end of the first quarter, Cedric Tetuanui from New Caledonia scored a 3 pointer, bringing their team’s score to 23 to New Zealand’s 18, and a great confidence boost into the first break.
Tetuanui was the leading scorer for his team in the first half scoring 8 out of his team’s 38.
The second quarter started with not a lot of points scored, the ball remained contested in centre court for the majority of the first half of the quarter. New Zealand caught up in the scoring but New Caledonia held onto a 7 point lead.
Raymond Penny (NZ) scored a three-pointer adding to his team’s score of 31 during the second quarter. Jayden Bezzant was New Zealand’s highest scorer for the first half scoring 9 points.
The third quarter hit off to a very excited and fast moving start, all the players from both the teams all rested up and ready to go again after their half time break.
New Caledonia’s Cedric Tetuanui took a fall and injured his shoulder which resulted in him being unable to continue with the game.
Both teams kept strong and fast moving throughout the whole third quarter with only small bursts of a few goals separating the teams. New Caledonia held on to their lead, with a 5-point lead over New Zealand (54 - 49).
The fourth quarter started just as heated but this time from the coaches. As the players slowed down and got tired the coaches became stressed at the close scores and New Zealand’s gradual come back. With only 5 minutes left in the game, New Zealand was leading by 4 points, but New Caledonia played hard and shortened their lead.
With 30 seconds left, New Caledonia was awarded 2 free throws but only scored one point, a few seconds later New Zealand was awarded two free throws and only scored one point. However, New Zealand scored 2 extra points, giving them the lead and winning them the game, 64 – 61.
By Amy Sanderson and Victoria Heard of The Reporters' Academy