Molloy’s Tall Ferns suffer heart-breaking loss to Puerto Rico

February 11, 2024 | Sydney Flames news

The New Zealand Tall Ferns, coached by Sydney Flames’ Guy Molloy, suffered a heartbreaking loss at the FIBA Olympic Qualifiers in China on Saturday night, falling 69-67 to a tough Puerto Rico squad.

After taking a 25-18 lead at the end of the first quarter, the Kiwis struggled mightily in the second frame – going 1-12 from the field as Puerto Rico took a three-point lead.


The second half was a constant back-and-forth affair, with New Zealand nursing a one-point lead with 49 seconds left – only for Puerto Rico to score back-to-back baskets for the win.

This loss eliminates the Tall Ferns from contending at the 2024 Olympics, while Puerto Rico earns a spot in Paris for only the second time ever.

Tall Ferns captain, Stella Beck was huge in this game with 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists – including a third-quarter span that saw her score six straight points and take her second charge of the game.

But the Kiwis couldn’t stop Puerto Rico’s hot shooting from downtown throughout the game, with their opponents hitting 11 triples at a 33 per cent clip and hitting several big shots at key phases of the match.

Esra McGoldrick added an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double, while Ritorya Tamilo had a solid 10 points and six rebounds, Tera Reed and Lauren Whittaker chipped in with seven points and 5 rebounds apiece; Reed also added five assists, while McKenna Dale made her Tall Ferns debut – scoring nine in the first quarter before leaving due to injury.

Although New Zealand outshot Puerto Rico from the field (35.7 per cent to 33) and enjoyed 34-20 points in the paint advantage, the Kiwis again struggled from outside – held to just 4/28 shooting from outside the arc.

Tall Ferns coach Guy Molloy shared his thoughts following the game.

“We’re very disappointed to lose, but congratulations to Puerto Rico in a very competitive game; it was a very close game that went right down to the end,” Molloy said.

“Good luck to them in their next tournament phase.”

The Tall Ferns play their third and final game of the FIBA Olympic Qualifiers on Sunday night at 10pm AEDT, which can be watched live here.