No national anthem boos but no joy either for Hong Kong as New Zealand outclass hosts in basketball World Cup qualifier
The Tall Blacks hand the hosts their second straight defeat in group A but Hong Kong coach says team will learn from loss at Southorn Stadium
After all the hoo-ha over booing at recent Hong Kong soccer matches, the only jeers heard from the crowd during the national basketball team’s World Cup qualifier were attempts to put off New Zealand’s players at free throws.
The beleaguered hosts needed all the help they could get during a hapless 133-74 defeat by the dominant Tall Blacks in Wan Chai.
The lopsided loss compounded Hong Kong’s misery after their 96-44 defeat in China on Thursday, and left them propping up group A in Asian standings with two points from two matches.
Hong Kong coach On Hing-king was not overly worried by the result and still came away satisfied.
“This is a great game, we are satisfied with our players. They tried to change the difference in the physical aspect to do our best – all the New Zealand team had great three-point shooting, even the centres,” he said. “Hong Kong is going to get better because we know each other more and more, how we play, and we will play better in the coming games.
“We are not asking for wins, most of the players may retire in the coming years so we have to build up a systematic training programme for our younger players to let them grow more for the coming games.”
While the thousand or so inside Southorn Stadium impeccably observed both national anthems, they soon picked up the noise, led by a piercing drum beat.
They had to, chanting “defence” and “we are Hong Kong!” from the get-go as New Zealand won the tip-off and charged forward, Corey Webster sinking a three-pointer with their first attack.
Each home basket was met with a raucous roar and fists pumped in the air, but the visitors were a different class.
They did not fall behind once for the whole match, racking up an emphatic 71-40 lead by half-time as the hosts floundered.
New Zealand stretched their lead to 49 points – 106-57 – by the end of the third quarter, with Hong Kong’s defence leaving a lot to be desired.
Their shooting was disappointingly inconsistent, too, with only 42 per cent accuracy on field goals (29/69).
Only four players – talisman Duncan Reid (17 points) of Chinese Basketball Association side Zhejiang Chuzhou, Tsai Choi-kwan (11), Liang Man-hung (14) and Eastern captain Lee Ki (11) posted double figures, compared to seven players for the Tall Blacks.
New Zealand’s lead eventually crept up to 59 points as they finished with a final flourish, Jordan Ngatai top-scoring with 18.
Despite another chastening defeat, the loyal Hong Kong crowd still clapped their side off the court.
But there will be no let up for Hong Kong, who next face a trip on February 23 to South Korea – who shocked New Zealand 86-80 in Wellington in their group opener.
New Zealand coach Paul Henare said was pleased by his team’s display, while saying Hong Kong will learn from their defeat.
“Hong Kong played a good, fair game, knocked down some shots. Even though the scoreline got a bit large there we decided we wanted to continue to play hard and the right way, and not disrespect Hong Kong by throwing the ball away and making silly plays. We did a good job of that,” he said.
“This new format for Hong Kong will be great for their players, the experience they get from playing on a regular basis will see their national team get better and better.
“Duncan Reid’s a good player. He’s good down on the low block. We watched some of his game against China, he made some good moves.
“We tried not to let them get open so much and to challenge them from the three but they were able to get open and knock down their shots at a clip.