The Tall Blacks kept their FIBA World Cup campaign alive with a 93-83 win over Montenegro on Tuesday night.
In a high-paced and physical encounter, the New Zealanders kept their composure down the stretch to bounce back in style from their opening loss to Brazil on Sunday.
They were led by guard Corey Webster who found his scoring touch early and maintained his aggression throughout, making plays across the court to finish with a monster line of 25 points on six of eight from three-point range to go with six rebounds and seven assists.
Big man Issac Fotu was a huge factor, anchoring the defence and displaying his full arsenal of post moves to register 20 points and seven rebounds, while Shea Ili provided his typical spark off the bench.
The Tall Blacks set a furious pace from the tip-off, riding the hot hand of Webster and the impact of Ili to pour in 31 points in the opening quarter, taking a five point lead at the end of the stanza.
Fotu continued his hard work in the post in the second quarter, battling some tall timber on the low block to score with an array of baby hooks and mid-range jumpers.
Webster sank four of his five attempts from three for a 15-point halftime haul in a high-scoring encounter.
New Zealand were given a welcome boost going into the break, after Montenegro coach Zvezdan Mitrovic was ejected for incurring a second technical foul.
Despite being a coach down, Montenegro ramped up their intensity in the third quarter, particularly under the rim where they began to get the edge in the rebounding battle behind Bojan Dubljevic.
Their NBA all star Nikola Vucevic then began to find his rhythm following a quiet first half, making his presence felt at both ends of the court to help close the NZ advantage to a single point at the end of the third quarter.
But the Tall Blacks went to their man man Webster early and often to start the final quarter and it paid off in spades. The Montenegro shooters went cold and the men in black kept their heads with some clinical finishing in the dying stages to ultimately close out a comfortable win.
The Tall Blacks will play their final pool game against Greece on Thursday night.
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