Mbenga Back But Belgium Fall

31 July 2009

Didier Mbenga returned for Belgium but could not prevent them from slipping to an 83-81 loss to New Zealand in a warm-up for their EuroBasket Additional Qualifying Round campaign.

The Belgians routed New Zealand 98-76 in Oostende on Wednesday night, but it was a very different story a day later in Antwerp as they became only the second team to lose to the Tall Blacks in what was game seven of their European tour.

It took a basket from Alex Pledger with half a second left to win it for New Zealand.

Belgium let slip a 17-point second-quarter lead, which will be a clear cause for concern for coaches Eddy Casteels and Jacques Stas with only a week left before they tip off their AQR campaign against Bosnia and Herzegovina in Zenica on August 8.

Mbenga, who missed Wednesday's game, returned to score 15 points, while Sam van Rossum led Belgium with 16.

Jeff van der Jonckheyd and Yannick Driesen also reached double figures with 11 and 10 respectively.

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