New Zealand got their chance to play against the United States in group play of the FIBA World Cup on Tuesday, and while the Kiwis impressed with their pregame Haka dance, the Americans still won, 98-71.
The loss dropped New Zealand to 0-3 in group play and put them in a position where advancing is going to be a tall task.
That’s really neither here nor there for college hoop fans, but it’s worth noting that there are two collegiate hoopers on that New Zealand team — Tai Webster of Nebraska and Isaac Fotu of Hawaii. Against the Americans, Webster finished with just four points in 15 points, going 1-for-5 from the floor and turning the ball over four times against Team USA’s loaded back court. Fotu faired a little bit better, chipping in with eight points and a pair of rebounds in 17 minutes.
Webster and Fotu have been solid playing against some very good competition, but perhaps the most impressive college player at the event has been Angola’s Yannick Moreira, who plays for Larry Brown at SMU. Moreira was a top JuCo recruit in the Class of 2013 but wasn’t quite as good as he was expected to be as a junior. That may change next season, however, as Moreira has had a pair of big games in Bilbao. He finished with 16 points and 10 boards last week against Korea and, on Tuesday, he posted team-highs of 13 points and nine boards in a loss to Mexico.
The only other college hooper in action in Tuesday’s World Cup action was Kansas guard Svi Mykhailiuk. He went scoreless in nine minutes against Turkey, but the Urkanians picked up a key win over Turkey. The win will go a long way towards getting Urkaine through group play.