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Poor defence, shooting leads to big Tall Blacks loss in pre-World Cup clash with Canada


The Tall Blacks have been served a pre-World Cup wake up call from NBA champion coach Nick Nurse and his Canadian squad in Sydney last night.

Tall Blacks forward Isaac Fotu shoots against Canada. Source: Photosport

Canada opened the match with unanswered runs of 10 and 20 points to hold a 35-16 lead after the third quarter, which eventually led to their 122-88 win.

The Tall Blacks were down two key rotation players in Shea Ili and Alex Pledger due to a minor groin strain and illness respectively, but a poor shooting performance all round was their biggest issue.

Canada shot 56 per cent from the field and 45 per cent from the three-point line while the Tall Blacks shot just 26 per cent and 23 per cent, respectively. They also struggled for rebounds, where Canada claimed 27 to the Kiwis' 18.

Coach Paul Henare said the first half, which wrapped up with a scoreline of 61-37, was on the back of a lacking defensive effort.

"The 61 points obviously hurts but it's the manner in which we gave them up," Henare said.

"We didn't have each other's backs, we didn't make it tough on them. We need some heart and desire at the defensive end."

Tai Webster was the Tall Blacks' best performer of the night with a solid line of 19 points (6/14 FG, 2/4 3PT), 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. He was helped by Tob Loe and Isaac Fotu, who both scored 17, and brother Corey, who added 13 points and six assists.

Fotu said the team won't shy away from the result.

"That first half was terrible," said Fotu after the game. "We can't come out like that again because we'll get killed by teams better than this.

"We need to discuss what happened because that was unacceptable. I think you saw how much we missed Mika Vukona tonight. We missed his intensity."

Interestingly, Canada's squad is without any of their NBA stars, instead filled with players mainly from the professional European scene but under the tutelage of Nurse - who coached the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA title in his rookie season earlier this year. Still, they have proven they'll be a genuine contender at this year's World Cup.

Before last night's win, the Canadians also handed the Australian Boomers a 20-point loss in Perth.

The Tall Blacks get a chance to right last night's wrongs tonight at 9.30pm NZT at the same venue against Canada.