NZL/KOR - Tall Blacks blow away Korea in opening friendly
WELLINGTON (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - A three-game friendly series between Korea and New Zealand got underway on Tuesday in Wellington and the Tall Blacks fans who watched enjoyed themselves immensely.
Despite having been together for just a week, and without the services of Tai Webster, the Kiwis rolled to a 102-69 victory.
Webster, a flashy playmaker who was a freshman with the Nebraska Cornhuskers in 2013-14, has only just joined the team and didn't play.
Veteran sharpshooter Kirk Penney had 17 points to lead the Tall Blacks in scoring.
All eyes in New Zealand are on emerging Tall Black Isaac Fotu, who has been very impressive in the American college game with the University of Hawaii.
Fotu, a FIBA 3x3 player like Tai Webster, made quite a statement in his opening game with eight points and a team-high 10 rebounds.
The friendly also served as an opportunity for 16-year-old Tai Wynyard to make his senior team bow.
Wynyard is a name that is well known in New Zealand. Tai's father, Jason, is a lumberjack world champion.
Korea coach Yoo Jaehak, meanwhile, will be happy that the FIBA Basketball World Cup doesn't tip off for another 45 days.
He had to juggle his roster for the trip to New Zealand because of injuries but settled on a 14-man group.
One of the players to miss out is on the series due to injury is Kim Taesool, although the Korean guard could yet figure in Yoo’s World Cup plans.
"It is unfortunate that Kim could not join us in time for our New Zealand training," Yoo said, "but he should rest and we wish him a speedy recovery.
"We could have used Kim’s defense and playmaking capabilities to solidify our rotation."
The Korea squad in New Zealand consists of: Kim Sunhyung, Yang Donggeun, Park Chanhee, Cho Sungmin, Yang Heejong, Kim Joosung, Moon Taejong, Lee Seunghyun, Choi Joonyoung, Choi Jinsoo, Kim Jongkyu, Lee Jonghyun, Oh Sekeun and Jang Jaeseok.