The 2015 FIBA Oceania Female Championship Olympic Qualifying Series pitched Australia Opals, ranked 2nd in the world against the Tall Ferns, the 22nd ranked nation.
The result of game one in the series, played in Melbourne on Saturday, justified the rankings as the Australian Opals convincingly beat the New Zealand Tall Ferns 61-41. However, although the Australians won game two in Tauranga 80-63 the game was a lot closer than the final scoreline suggests, the Opals scoring their last five points in the final 15 seconds of a keenly fought contest.
Looking ahead to the possibility of the young team qualifying for the Olympics via the repechage route, Captain Natalie Taylor was upbeat.
“I think 12 teams go to the tournament and four make it through,” she explains, “but it is really important that New Zealand has an opportunity.
“We have to compete against number two in the world every time to go to a world event. It's not an excuse but it's not easy.
“We have so much young talent in our team and it's extremely exciting for us. It's good that people in NZ were able to see that, as all of our girls are playing overseas. Hopefully we can continue to build on our programme”.
It's NZ's second loss to Australia in the 2015 FIBA Oceania Championship Olympic Qualifying Series after losing to the Opals 61-41 in Melbourne last Saturday.
The Tall Ferns had 3 Counties Manukau Lady Hawk players in the team, Point Guard Jordan Hunter, Forward Kalani Purcell and Captain Natalie Taylor all did their country and region proud.