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Tall Ferns crash to third loss in Belarus

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 4/06/2016
Kalani Purcell in action for the Tall Ferns. © Getty Images Kalani Purcell in action for the Tall Ferns.

New Zealand have ended a four-nations women's basketball tournament in Belarus with three losses after going down 75-59 to Japan.

The 22nd-ranked Tall Ferns couldn't build on an early lead against the 16th-ranked Asian champions in Minsk, having opened up a 13-5 advantage.

They trailed by the end of the first quarter and were still only eight points down entering the final stanza before falling away.

It was an improvement on a 70-39 hammering at the hands of Turkey a day earlier, which followed a four-point loss to Belarus.

Toni Edmondson top-scored with 17 points while Jillian Harmon mixed nine points with 10 rebounds.

Coach Kennedy Kereama remains optimistic about his team's progress as they build towards the Olympic qualifying tournament starting in France on June 13.

"There were better signs today and some major improvements made," he said.

"We secured 24 offensive rebounds and we were more aggressive and assertive in our offensive sets.

"But we also didn't have a great shooting game and we need to continue to find ways to keep the scoreboard ticking over."

Kereama will trim his squad from 14 to 12 ahead of two final warm-up games against world No.3 Spain.

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