2.2m tall 17yo goes viral after playing Junior Tall Ferns

The Junior Tall Ferns are getting a lot of attention on social media right now, due in no small part to the fact that they played against 2.20m (7 feet, 2 inches) 17-year-old Zhang Ziyu.

The Ferns, New Zealand’s under-18 women’s basketball side, took on Zhang’s China in the FIBA under-18 Asia Cup in Shenzen in a Group B match at the FIBA U18 Asia Cup.

The Chinese centre turned in her best showing of the tournament to help her side to a 90-68 win, at the Longhua Cultural and Sports Centre. Footage of the game – as well as Zhang’s other efforts in the tournament – are garnering millions of views across social media platforms, with users calling her a ‘cheat code’ and ‘unguardable’.

However, the Junior Tall Ferns put up a brave fight against Zhang’s massive height advantage, especially early in the game. But they could not stop her finishing with 36 points on 16-of-20 shooting from the floor and 13 rebounds, along with four blocks.

In China’s first game, Zhang scored 19 points on nine-for-nine shooting in just 13 minutes, as they cruised to a big win over Indonesia, 109-50. She also racked up seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocks.

Chinese basketball player Zhang Ziyu (C) shooting past New Zealand's Elise Jayne Carline during their 2024 FIBA Under-18 Women's Asia Cup match between China and New Zealand in Shenzhen.

The loss, along with an opening 84-47 defeat to Japan, meant the Junior Tall Ferns needed a win to keep their 2024 U18 World Cup dreams alive in their next match against Indonesia, which they achieved 70-50.

Rebecca Moors led the way with 14 points and eight rebounds, with Arna Bright also in double figures (11 points) and Olivia Lassey tallying nine points, five rebounds and five assists in an all-around effort.

The Junior Tall Ferns will now meet Korea in a sudden death preliminary semi-final on Friday. A win would guarantee New Zealand a top-four finish, and with it a place at the 2024 U19 World Cup.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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