By Eurohoops team / firstname.lastname@example.org
New Zealand struggled against World Cup debutants Montenegro but can live another day with hopes to make it to the next round, after grabbing a 93-83 victory in the city of Nanjing.
Corey Webster was the leader for the winners, with an incredible performance from beyond the arc. He finished the game with 25 points (6/8 in threes), seven assists, and six rebounds.
Despite the Montenegrins’ effort in the second half, New Zealand found ways to restore their energy and with open shots got control of the game. Keeping in mind that the World Cup newcomers’ bench received four technicals (staff and players), it was a battle that couldn’t be won easily.
“We were 8-10 points behind in the final period and to keep up with a team that plays in high intensity you need to push yourself physically to the limits. If you analyze the game, you’ll see that in the last minute many guys, including myself, couldn’t move very well”, commented Nikola Ivanovic.
It was a three-point feast in the first period and New Zealand set the mood for the game, though Montenegro didn’t fall far behind in three-point shooting and the quarter ended 31-26.
However, the second quarter turned out to be a big upset for Montenegro, as coach Zvezdan Mitrovic was ejected after receiving his second technical call, and New Zealand led by 9 at halftime (53-44).
The intense battle continued in the third period, with the Montenegrin bench receiving yet another technical, as Vucevic paced his team to as close as one point (65-66) before heading into the fourth.
Group F now has a more clear picture as New Zealand has to overcome Greece (1-0) on Thursday, while Montenegro (0-2) faces Brazil (1-0).
Photo credit: FIBA.basketball