Coach Kennedy Kereama is calling for a drastically improved effort after his Tall Ferns put forth a performance he describes as their worst during his time with the programme.
Trailing by 19 points at halftime, the national women's basketball team rallied in the third quarter to eventually lose 64-72 to Australia's Emerging Opals at Suzhou, China.
"Tonight was a real wake-up call for the team," reflected Kereama, who was video analyst at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. "Once again, the possession game let us down and we allowed 15 offensive rebounds. The conversion rate for those second chances would have been at least 80% and they also out-rebounded us 47-34, clearly showing us we have some improvements to make in this area."
New Zealand fell nine points behind in the opening quarter and could find no answer through the second period.
"Fair to say, the team copped a spray at halftime and we, as a coaching staff, challenged them on a lot of the small things weren't doing well."
The Ferns came out of the locker room breathing fire and held their opponents to just five points in the third stanza. But Kereama was forced to play his starters for much of the period as he got very little from the bench.
"Obviously, we had a good response, but to be a team that consistently competes internationally, we can't be digging ourselves 19-point holes in the first half," he insisted.
Captain Natalie Taylor led her team with 16 points, a tally matched by forward Jillian Harmon and guard Micaela Cocks, although Taylor achieved hers far more efficiently. Harmon also added 10 rebounds for a double double.
"We had a number of passengers with very few contributors," lamented Kereama. "We will make the adjustments and expect to win tomorrow."
The Tall Ferns wrap up the first phase of their China tour tonight against reigning African champions Angola. They are due to contest a FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament at Ankara, Turkey, later this month in the hope of securging one of five remaining sports in the draw at London.
Emerging Opals 72 NZ Tall Ferns 64 (Micaela Cocks, Jillian Harmon & Natalie Taylor 16, Casey Lockwood 10)