New Zealand makes stunning comeback road win, deals China first loss in qualifiers
Tai Webster had 18 points to rally New Zealand past China. Photo from Fiba

NEW Zealand rode a blistering fourth quarter run to deal China its first loss, 82-73, in hosting Group A’s opening match of the second window in the 2019 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers at Dongguan on Friday.

Trailing by as much as eight  early in the first half, New Zealand went on a 16-1 blitz in a five-minute span to take the lead for good against a stunned China squad in front of its home fans, 75-65. The Tall Blacks went on to outscore the China in the final frame, 27-15, to seal the win and take the top spot in the Group with a 2-1 record, despite ending up with the same card as its opponent and Korea who kept Hong Kong winless with a 93-72 romp later Friday.

Tai and Corey Webster each scored 18 points, combining for six of New Zealand’s eight triples as the hot-shooting Tall Blacks made 53% from beyond the arc, while holding China to 27% from deep.

Yi Jianlian led all scorers with 37 points, scoring 24 of his output in the first half, but his efforts went to waste for China.  

New Zealand will face Korea next, while China hopes to bounce back against Hong Kong on Monday.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @spinph