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Tall Ferns crash to heavy loss to Turkey

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 3/06/2016

New Zealand's Olympic qualifying preparations have suffered a setback with a 70-39 loss to Turkey at a four-nation women's basketball tournament in Minsk.

A day after pushing hosts Belarus close, the 22nd-ranked Tall Ferns were strangled by 11th-ranked Turkey, who led 33-16 at halftime.

New Zealand were slightly more effective but still have plenty of areas to improve heading into their final game against 16th-ranked Japan on Saturday.

The Tall Ferns are preparing for the Olympic qualifying tournament in France this month and assistant coach Aik Ho says their "thrashing" will be a wake-up call.

"The players were flat perhaps with the worry of the final selection hanging over them," he said.

"Turkey were focused and came out hard defensively and established a good lead. They defended our starters really well and we just couldn't get going."

One bright note was the form of the experienced Erin Rooney, who made just her second appearance since injuring herself in February.

The French-based guard played 15 minutes and led the team's scoring with eight points, helping them win the final quarter 15-13.

The 12 players to contest the qualifying tournament will be named after the game against Asian champions Japan.

The Japanese are fielding a similar team to that which beat New Zealand 3-0 in a series in Christchurch last year.

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