Backs to the wall? Tall Blacks back in business!
BILBAO (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - Coach Nenad Vucinic of New Zealand is not new to challenging his team to come out and play the way he wants them to. The Tall Blacks themselves are not new to responding to the coach's call, and play the way they are capable of.
"Well we know our progress depends on a lot of other results. But the important thing we have in our hand is to win (against Finland on Thursday)," said Vucinic.
"It won't be easy, with 8,000 fans against us. But that's the challenge we have."
Kirk Penney, who had a game-high 17 points along with seven rebounds and two assists, shared what the team's approach was going into the game
"The coach challenged us last night. He challenged us to play the way we are capable of," he said.
"We had a meeting and he challenged us to play much better and execute much better. Now feel we are back in business.
The Kiwis have a win under their belt now, but for Vucinic there is still a lot to do.
"We had our backs to the wall and the team responded well. Unfortunately, we still have our backs to the wall," he said.
We have another game at hand and we need to win it. It's as simple as that. - Vucinic
Casey Frank, who has played for New Zealand since the 2006 FIBA World Championship, praised youngsters Isaac Fotu and Tai Webster for stepping up when the team needed them to.
"Isaac did very well in the first half with his pick and pop jumpers kept us in. It helped us turn it on offensively," said the 36-year-old.
"We were playing for our lives. We were very passionate about it. Some of the guys may have kept it within. Not me certainly."
Frank looks forward to playing against the Finland, who will ride high on fan power.
"We wouldn't have it any other way," he said.
"All those fans cheering against you in a full house. That's what make basketball fun."