Tai Webster performs well again for New Zealand in loss

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New Zealand Falls to France, 66-59
Manila –Despite another solid performance from Tai Webster, New Zealand was unable to hold a fourth-quarter lead in falling to France, 66-59, on Thursday.

New Zealand, which will play Canada in Saturday’s semifinal, led 50-38 with 9:39 remaining, only to see France go on a 22-2 spurt to gain the lead for good.

New Zealand pulled within 63-59 after Corey Webster’s 3-pointer off the Tai Webster assist with 30 seconds left, but free throws by France’s Tony Parker and Boris Diaw put the game out of reach.

Webster, a 6-foot-4 guard who will be a senior in 2016-17, finished with nine points, a team-high eight rebounds, two assists and two steals in 24 minutes, as he nearly posted his second straight double-double. Corey Webster, Tai’s older brother, led New Zealand with 21 points in the losing effort.

Through group play, Tai is tied for third among all players averaging 17.0 points per game and is second in rebounding at 9.5 caroms per contest. Webster is also fourth among all players in shooting percentage (45.5 pct.) and 10th in assists (2.5 apg).

New Zealand will take on Canada at 5:30 a.m. (CT) on Saturday with the winner advancing to the championship against either France or Turkey on Sunday.

Former Husker Jorge Brian Diaz is playing for Puerto Rico in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Serbia, which concluded its group stage on Wednesday. Diaz is averaging 5.0 points and 4.0 rebounds for Puerto Rico, which will play Latvia the semifinals Friday at 11 a.m.