Izayah Le’afa reacts to New Zealand surviving Kobe-like effort by Hollis-Jefferson to win in OT


Photo: FIBA

In a nail-biter, New Zealand foils Jordan and Rondae Hollis Jefferson’s 39-point spectacle, clinching a 94-87 overtime triumph. This victory keeps New Zealand’s hopes alive for a top-two spot in Group C and advancement to the Second Round.

New Zealand led by 12 in the fourth quarter, yet Freddy Ibrahim and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson brought Jordan within one point with five minutes remaining.

Despite New Zealand’s five-point lead in the final minute, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s incredible play took over. He drew a foul on a three-pointer, made all three shots, and with 10.7 seconds left, sank a fouled three-pointer to force OT amidst “Kobe! Kobe!” chants.

Overtime favored New Zealand. Jordan tired, and Izayah Le’afa’s steal and three-pointer secured their lead. Shea Ili then guided New Zealand to a safe victory.

“We trusted in the things that we did,” Izayah Le’afa said. “Obviously, the preparation that the coaches gave for us, and the scouting, the five weeks that we built together led to these moments.

“This is the World Cup, so anything can happen, but we just dug deep and believed in ourselves and got the job done.”

Check out Izayah Le’afa’s TCL Player Of The Game highlights during the New Zealand and Jordan game at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023:

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