Kirk Penney key, Tall Blacks beat Ivory Coast
Kirk Penney rediscovered the offensive groove to guide the Tall Blacks to their second win in as many games in China tonight.
Penney poured in a game-high 26 points to power the World Cup-bound New Zealand men's team to a 79-55 victory over the Ivory Coast and take their record to 2-0 in the four-team tournament in Shenzhen, China.
It was a timely return to form for the classy 30-year-old shooting guard who was seven-of-13 from the field and four-of-eight from behind the arc. He added five boards and a pair of assists for good measure.
The Tall Blacks trailed 8-12 after a cold first quarter, but took control with a 26-8 second period and were never threatened thereafter.
Corey Webster continued his impressive efforts on the buildup tour with 13 points (5/15 FG), three rebounds and two steals while younger brother Tai Webster chimed in with 10 points (4/6 FG), four boards and a pair of assists.
Tom Abercrombie added 11 points on three-of-nine shooting to go with four boards, while Mika Vukona, as ever, led the rebound count for the Kiwis with 10. Casey Frank also had seven boards in 14 minutes as he works back from his calf problems.
After being challenged by his coaches to hit the baords more, big man Rob Loe had a disappointing output with no rebounds and just two points in 16 minutes on court.
Assistant coach Pero Cameron was pleased with the continued progression from his side.
"That was a higher level opposition, and I thought defensively we played pretty good. We locked up their players - apart from their centre who finished with 18 points. That was down to sheer size - we don't have the players to combat that.
"We saw a good game for Casey who gave us good energy and some important boards while offensively it was pleasing to see Kirk with 26 and get good contributions from Tom, Corey and Tai (Webster).
"Defensively we are not too bad. We are not a big team, and with a 16 year old (Tai Wynyard) in the five spot we have a lack of experience and size in that position but we are dealing with the boards with the whole five out there having to get the job done."
The Tall Blacks conclude the first of two Chinese tournaments tomorrow with a deciding clash against Chinese league champions the Guangdong Southern Tigers.
New Zealand 79 (Kirk Penney 26, Corey Webster 13, Tom Abercrombie 11, Tai Webster 10) Ivory Coast 55 (Mohamed Kone 18). 1Q: 8-12; HT: 34-20; 3Q: 52-32
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