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Tall Ferns fade late in loss to France

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 14/06/2016

New Zealand have suffered a heavy loss to hosts France at the Olympic women's basketball qualifying tournament, leaving their Rio hopes hanging by a thread.

The Tall Ferns couldn't maintain a bright start to lose their opening game in Nantes 70-52, leaving them having to beat world No.13 Cuba in their second game on Wednesday to advance to the quarter-finals.

The top five teams at the 12-nation tournament fill the final spots at Rio in August.

The 22nd-ranked Tall Ferns struggled to cope with fourth-ranked France's stifling defence in the second half, after having opened up a 29-27 lead.

They were only six points down entering the final quarter but were shut down in front of a loud home crowd.

Coach Kennedy Kereama was disappointed New Zealand couldn't maintain their intensity.

"They pounded it inside, we expected it, we prepared for it but we didn't execute for 15 minutes of that game which was disappointing," he said.

"Our focus now turns to Cuba. We believe, if we play as well as we did for 25 minutes and some of this game, we give ourselves a chance."

French centre Isabelle Yacoubou was the game's dominant figure with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Forward Toni Edmondson pulled down six rebounds and was the only New Zealand scorer in double figures with 10.

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