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Tall Blacks stun European giants Turkey in final World Cup game with one-point win

The Tall Blacks have finished their World Cup campaign in emphatic fashion with a stunning 102-101 upset win over European powerhouse Turkey in China.

This morning's win, their first ever over Turkey, is impactful for a number of reasons but the most important is that it secures New Zealand a spot for Olympic qualifying next year.

The win also saw the team finish with a winning record overall - 3-2 - after losses to Brazil and Greece and pool play saw them unable to move on to the knockout stages.

"Unreal. I am a little bit lost for words, not just for that result but in the greater scheme of things, what that says about our programme and what we have done throughout this tournament," coach Paul Henare said.

"I am so proud of this team, for their fight and the commitment to play the way we want to play, to be able to do it on this stage is just unbelievable."

It was a team effort with six Tall Blacks reaching double digits in the scoring but big men Isaac Fotu and Rob Loe led the way with 17 points each.

Fotu's biggest points of the night were his final two - a hook shot that put the Tall Blacks ahead by one with less than a minute to go. 

The team's defence then held the Turks at bay and the result was sealed. Loe was named man of the match for his performance, adding three rebounds and four assists to his 17 points.

Henare said the plan for the match was to run at pace and space the floor to allow open looks for his shooters.

"It has been a little bit experimental to start with but the way the guys have bought in to the way we are playing and for it to come to fruition today on such a big stage - with our Olympic hopes on the line," he said.

"Let's not dance around the fact we didn't achieve our goals but we still had plenty to play for, against a top ten team in the world in what is the first time we have ever beaten Turkey as far as I can remember, there is just so much there."

The Tall Blacks, ranked 38 coming in, finish the competition 19th and must now turn their attention to Asia Cup qualifying and the Olympic repechage tournaments.

Twenty-four teams will contest the four repechages with only the four winners booking tickets to Tokyo.


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