HIROSHIMA (FIBA World Championship
) - After losing their first three games of the 2006 FIBA World Championship, New Zealand advanced to the Final 16 with an 86-75 victory over Panama - their second straight win.
The Tall Blacks used an 11-1 run in the third quarter to break open the game as Craig Bradshaw scored 17 points and Kirk Penney had 16 and Pero Cameron chipped in 14.
The victory clinched fourth place in Group B for New Zealand with a 2-3 record and a Round of 16 date with 2004 Olympic champions Argentina.
"Eveybody knows what a disrupted campaign we've had. We came to Hiroshima and we weren't in sync," New Zealand coach Tab Baldwin said. "But if we can pick up things from where they are now, we can make a real run at Argentina."
Panama collected their fifth loss in five first round games, and Guillermo Vecchio said he felt proud to coach the team.
"It's really tough after five matches that we couldn't win a game. This is the first time in my career that I have had five losses in five games. But I really believe this is the first step for the Panama basketball federation."
Michael Hicks scored 20 points to lead Panama while Ruben Garces added 13 points.
Knowing they would advance to the knock-out stages with a victory, the 2002 FIBA World Championship semi-finalists New Zealand picked up where they left off following their incredible second half comeback victory against Japan on Wednesday.
Baldwin's team shot 57 per cent from the field in building a 48-38 advantage.
In the third quarter, the Tall Blacks put together an 11-1 run, which was capped by a Mark Dickel break away layup with 1:56 to go in the third. The 65-48 lead was New Zealand's biggest of the game.
Panama was able to close within nine points on four occasions, the last one coming at 84-75 on Dioniso Gomez's free throw with 44 seconds remaining. By David Hein