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Tall Blacks fall to Canada

Published: 7:57AM Tuesday July 28, 2009 Source: ONE Sport

The New Zealand Tall Blacks ran into a hot-shooting Canadian team as they fell 90-68 in their final game at the Trentino Cup in Trento, Italy.

The Canadians shot 57 percent (33/58) from the field, including 7-of-14 on long-range attempts, as they pulled away from New Zealand in the third period for their second straight win in Italy.

Kirk Penney, the Tall Blacks captain, top-scored with 14 points, while rookie swingman Tom Abercrombie finished with 12 points in a fatigued performance from New Zealand, who dropped to 1-4 on their eight-game Euro Trip.

The Tall Blacks remained close until the third period, down just four points, 38-34, at halftime but things quickly got out of hand.

"Definitely we hit the wall today in a number of ways," said Tall Blacks head coach Nenad Vucinic.

"We struggled with Canada's inside game at both ends of the court. They started the third quarter with a zone and we didn't adjust well to that. We didn't have enough of an inside option to make them collapse and open things up.

"They zoned for the whole third quarter and we missed some open shots, the lead ballooned to 20 points and the game was over."

The Tall Blacks, out-rebounded 45-34 overall but winning the offensive rebound count 18-13, were out-scored 29-14 in the third, trailing 67-48 with a quarter to play.

And the fourth quarter charge never arrived.

"It was the fifth game in six days, so we were feeling it, it was definitely a fatigue issue today. You could see it more than anyone on Kirk. He's been the only one that's been playing big big minutes.

"They were marking him pretty tight and he's in a position where he's marking their best player too, so he's got to put effort in defensively. He definitely looked tired in that second half."

Penney's three-point shooting epitomised that, converting 2-of-9 from distance as he went 6-of-15 from the field, with three assists.

New Zealand, who put up 13 more field-goal attempts in the game, shot 39 percent (28/71) from the floor and 10-of-28 (36 percent) on threes and only got to the foul-line 10 times.

Forward Mika Vukona finished a point away from a double-double with nine points (3/7 FG, 0/1 3pt, 3/4 FT), grabbing six offensive rebounds in his game-high 11 boards, also with three steals and two assists.

Abercrombie had his third double digit scoring game of the tour, going 5-of-14 from the field with four rebounds and a team-high four assists. Starting centre Alex Pledger pulled down six rebounds to go with his six points (3/5 FG) and two blocks.

For Canada, Andy Rautins, son of head coach Leo Rautins, hit on four of his six three-point shots and scored a game-high 20 points, while Levon Kendall had 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting.

Penney, who averaged 25.7 points per in three games at the Trentino Cup, had eight points and Abercrombie seven points at the half for New Zealand, who trailed 18-15 at quarter time.

The Tall Blacks now head to Belgium for back-to-back games on Thursday and Friday mornings (NZ time), before finishing their eight-game tour against Finland on Monday.