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Game Preview: USA-New Zealand

  • Date:
    Sep 1, 2014

USA vs. New Zealand

Sept. 2, 2014

Bizkaia Arena

Bilbao, Spain

11:30 a.m. EDT, ESPN2


Capturing wins in its first two preliminary round games in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup by an average margin of 40.0 points a game, the USA, following a day off, resumes preliminary round play Tuesday facing New Zealand in an 11:30 a.m. (EDT) game that is being broadcast live by ESPN2.

News Zealand is playing in its fifth World Cup and is 0-1 versus the United States in World play. The lone prior meeting between the two nations was at the 2002 World Championship in Indianapolis when the USA stormed to a 110-62 win. Despite falling to the U.S. by 48 points, New Zealand went on in 2002 to finish fourth, its best finish ever in a World Championship. 

The USA is also 1-0 versus New Zealand in Olympic play.  Facing New Zealand at the 2000 Sydney Olympic in preliminary round action, the Americans recorded a 102-56 win.

“I have not (yet) watched New Zealand,” responded USA mentor Mike Krzyzewski Sunday night following the USA’s win over Turkey when he was asked by media about the team’s next opponent. “We have a day in between, and I’ll watch them. I saw the Turkey game, but I was watching Turkey when I was watching, and it looked like New Zealand should have won, or was in a good position. So if they had a chance to beat Turkey, they must be pretty good. We’ll respect them with our preparation, and I know from past competitions (Kirk) Penny is a heck of a player.”

A balanced scoring squad, New Zealand is currently 0-2 having suffered losses to Turkey (76-73) and Dominican Republic (76-63).  Former NBA and NCAA player Kirk Penney, who played on New Zealand’s 2002 WC team, offers New Zealand veteran leadership at the guard position. Also look for guard Corey Webster, forward Thomas Abercrombie and Mika Vukona to contribute. New Zealand is further boosted by U.S. collegians Issac Fotu (Hawaii), Rob Low (Saint Louis) and Tai Webster (Nebraska).

After its first two games, Anthony Davis, who is averaging 18.0 ppg. and 5.0 ppg, leads the U.S. offensively. Five others are also averaging double-digit scoring, including Kenneth Faried, 14.0 ppg. and a team leading 7.0 rpg.; Klay Thompson, 12.0 ppg.; James Harden, 11.5 ppg. and a team best 5.0 apg.; Kyrie Irving, 11.0 ppg. and 4.5 apg.; and DeMarcus Cousins, 10.0 ppg. and 6.5 rpg.

As a team, the U.S. is averaging 106.0 points game, shooting 55.8 percent from the field, 35.0 percent from 3-point and 77.3 percent from the foul line. Defensively, the USA is holding it’s opponents to just 66.0 points a game, 36.4 percent shooting from the floor, 28.9 percent from 3-points, and is forcing opponents into 29.5 turnovers a game.

The USA sits atop of the World Cup Group C standings at 2-0, while four teams – Dominican Republic, Finland, Turkey and Ukraine – are all even with 1-1 marks, and New Zealand is in sixth place. 

Since the first World Championship in 1950, the USA has won 11 medals – four gold medals, three silver medals and four bronze medals – while compiling an all-time 116-27 win-loss record.

Just the Facts:  New Zealand

FIBA World Ranking: #19

How New Zealand Qualified: FIBA Oceania silver medalist (Lost to Australia 76-63 and 70-59 in a best of three series)

World Cup Appearances: 4

World Cup Overall Record: 10-16 (.385%)

World Cup Finishes: 4th (2002); 9th (2006); 12th (2010); 21st (1986)

World Cup Record vs. USA: 0-1 (62-110, 2002)

Last Senior Team Meeting vs. USA: 2002 WC (62-110)

2013 Head Coach: Nanad Vucinic

2013 Key Players In FIBA Oceania Championship: Corey Webster (15.0 ppg., 3.0 rpg., 2.5 apg.), Casey Frank (10.0 ppg., 2.5 rpg.), Thomas Abercromble (9.0 ppg., 4.5 rpg.), Mika Vukona (9.0 ppg., 8.5 rpg.).


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