Call for more funding after Tall Ferns miss out
The Tall Ferns will not be competing at the London Olympics and coach Kennedy Kereama believes funding for the team is just one of the factors that needs to be reviewed.
The New Zealand women's basketball team suffered a 54-51 reverse to Argentina at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Turkey yesterday, a result, which coupled with Tuesday's 70-51 loss to the Czech Republic, means they will not qualify out of their pool to contest the last five remaining spots in the London draw.
The 16th-ranked Ferns were always going to be underdogs against the fourth-ranked Czechs and 12th-ranked Argentinians, but they had high hopes of stealing a game and moving into the quarterfinals.
Kereama admitted his emotions were still "pretty raw" yesterday, but the team's programme needed to be reviewed if they were going to progress to the next level.
"There are a number of things in women's basketball that need to be reviewed, but it comes down to funding," he said from Ankara.
"The biggest difference between our programme and the other teams here is that their players are fulltime basketballers and the national team is their job.
"We're coming together to get our fix of basketball over two weeks, sometimes a month like we've just had. We had to jam a lot of stuff into 12 heads over a couple of weeks. It would be nice to have a really robust selection process over a period of time and give ourselves as much opportunity to implement our structures [but] we're not in a position to do that right now.
"We do find ways to deliver a good programme to players, but you always hope for more."
Despite the call for more support, which is a long-standing issue for the women's team, Kereama considered their preparation for Turkey "pretty good".
"On one hand, you have to credit Argentina for their ability to defend us and force us to take some tough shots and shut down some of our key players," he said.
"I think everyone came to play and we were beaten by a better team on the day. It was just a disappointing end, we had a number of plays and number of shots we could've made, but at the end of the day, they made the big shots. This just shows we're not that far off the better teams in the world."
Shooting was a big problem for the Kiwis. They managed just 25 per cent from the field against the Czechs and were only marginally better against the smaller but more physical Argentinians, returning 31 per cent.
Captain Natalie Taylor led all scorers yesterday with 19 points.
New Zealand must now set their sights on next year's Fiba Oceania championship in the hope of qualifying for the 2014 world championships.
"Over the past couple of years, we've been building with this core group and, for us, this was hopefully going to be a milestone," Taylor said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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