15 - 17
August 2015
14 Chevannah PAALVAST (New Zealand)
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Kiwi youngsters leading defensive charge

TAURANGA (2015 FIBA Oceania Women's Championship) - While a 20-point loss might seem like a bad way to open the FIBA Oceania Women's Championship, you won’t find New Zealand coach Kennedy Kereama in a downbeat mood.

With only three genuine veterans on the team he has been forced into "a bit of roll of the dice" with his young players, and Kereama likes what he sees.

Shooting guard Chevannah Paalvast equal top-scored in the 61-41 defeat to Australia and led an impressive Tall Ferns defense with her intense ball pressure.

"Chevannah was exceptional, did a great job, got on the rim, she's a great athlete, a very good defender and that is her role in the team," Kereama said.

"If she continues to play that role that well she'll continue to get minutes."

While Paalvast is solidifying her position in the team, livewire point guard Jordan Hunter made a strong claim for more opportunities with her electrifying drives to the basket.

For Kereama, Hunter's performance may have solved his dilemma of how to get star guard Micaela Cocks more scoring opportunities.

"The issue of playing Micaela at the point is she's also a great scorer and she also gets one of the toughest defensive match-ups in [Tessa] Lavey who's a very quick guard," he said.

"Jordan's aggression was excellent, she's got some real foot speed as well and next game we've probably got to look at giving her more court time and giving Micaela a rest off the ball."

I thought defensively we did a good job of disrupting them and making the right people take shots. - Kereama

Hunter's speed will also complement Paalvast's defensive efforts, and while overcoming the 20-point margin to qualify for Rio is a big ask, Kereama is confident his team can set up their first major tournament win over the Aussies with their defense.

"We'll come away with plenty of confidence from that game based on our defense. We held them to a winnable score-line, we've scored 61 points plenty of times."

Game 2 takes place on Monday in Tauranga at 19:30 local time (GMT+12) and can be seen live on LiveBasketball.TV (registration and subscription required; game geo-blocked in Australia and New Zealand).