Molloy’s Tall Ferns fall to France

February 12, 2024 | Sydney Flames news

The New Zealand Tall Ferns, coached by Sydney Flames’ Guy Molloy, have fallen 94-39 to a clinical France in their third and final game of the FIBA Olympic Qualifiers in Xi’an, China.

With New Zealand reduced to 10 players due to injury – key starter Tera Reed and Dale McKenna forced to sit this one out – the world seventh-ranked France came out firing in the first half, playing suffocating defence on the young Tall Ferns while 64 per cent from the field.


A fatigued New Zealand managed to hold France to 33 points in the second half while scoring 22 of their own, but the Kiwis fell to their third loss in three games.

Esra McGoldrick led the Tall Ferns with 10 points – her third straight game in double figures – and 6 rebounds, while Tayla Dalton was a sparkplug with nine points on 4/6 shooting from the field.

Amy West added six off the bench, Stella Beck with 5 and Lauren Whittaker added four points, as New Zealand shot just 30 per cent and committed 30 turnovers against a relentless French defence.

The Tall Ferns had no answer for French guard Gabby Williams, who scored 13 of her team’s first 17 points on 6-6 shooting; Williams finishing with 21 on the night. Dominique Malonga added 13 while centre Iliana Rupert registered 10 points and 5 boards; France outrebounding the Kiwis 40-28 and dominating all facets of the game – particularly on the fast break (32 points vs 2 for NZL) and points off turnovers (37 points against the Tall Fern’s six).

Although France is already assured of an Olympic spot as the hosts, their unbeaten run at this Olympic Qualifier – including a 32-point win over world number two-ranked China – should see them heading to Paris in July as a medal favourite.

Reflecting back on this game and the qualifying tournament, Tall Ferns coach Guy Molloy says that the New Zealand program can only benefit from playing against the best teams in the world.

“We had many injuries and bought a very young team to the tournament, and I’m pleased they got an opportunity to play against such a powerful team as France and got this valuable experience; which will serve the program well for the future,” Molloy said.

“We’ll go back and begin again with the qualification process; we introduced a lot of young new players into the program and we’re expecting a number of senior players to return from injury.

“So we’ll begin all over again and utilise the experience we’ve learned this time through – and hopefully get to another major tournament.”


This brings the FIBA Olympics Qualifiers Tournament to an end for the Tall Ferns, with the players and coaching staff either returning to New Zealand or their respective home bases around the world – including Molloy to Sydney to prepare for the Flames’ February 18 clash with Southside.

Tickets to that game at Qudos Bank Arena, which will also act as a ‘Thank You’ to Lauren Jackson, are still available here.