The New Zealand men’s basketball team was today less than a second away day from earning a shot at the gold medal.
Instead they now play Scotland for the bronze medal tomorrow. The Scots were pummelled by Australia today in one semi-final.
Playing Canada in the other semi-final, New Zealand led by 86-85 with just a second left on the clock. Up stepped Canadian Mamadou Gueye to land a three-pointer than broke New Zealand hearts.
It was a strangely fluctuating semi-final. Canada led 22-10 at quarter-time, but the New Zealand side fought back to lead 45-42 at halftime.
The next few minutes were a disaster for an error-ridden New Zealand team. At one point in the third quarter they trailed 74-53 and by three-quarter time it was Canada ahead 75-58.
To their credit the New Zealanders climbed back into the match. They got their noses in front 85-83 with 67 seconds remaining. When Shea Ili sank one of two free throws, it left them ahead by one point with five seconds remaining.
In the last play of the game, it took the Canadians a while to organise themselves, but they managed to get the ball to Gueye, who did the rest as the buzzer sounded.
It was a heartbreaking result for the New Zealanders. Not to forget, they had already given Canada a good pasting 80-62 in pool play.
But in the semi-final they made too many mistakes, as 26 turnovers indicates.
Ili was possibly the pick of the New Zealanders, especially at the start of the fourth quarter, when he scored 12 of 15 points to drag his team back into the match.
Ili ended with 23 points, while Mika Vukona and Thomas Abercrombie each contributed 13. Vukona was also superb with 15 rebounds.Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Shea Ili Tom Abercrombie Mika Vukona Basketball