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Team USA's Reaction to New Zealand's Haka Dance Goes Viral Before Blow Out Victory

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New Zealand began its Basketball World Cup game against Team USA Saturday with a ritual show of strength in the Maori Haka dance.

But in the end the inspiration was not enough to hold off the American team as Team USA won 99-72.

New Zealand rode its pre-game energy to a 10-point early lead, according to the Associated Press.

“We can’t use that as an excuse. We just got to be prepared,” Team USA player Tyrese Haliburton said, according to ESPN. “We have to be ready, prepared going into the games and respect every opponent.”

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Paolo Banchero, who scored 21 points coming off the bench, said the dance did not intimidate him, having played football with Pacific Islanders who performed the haka.

“It was good to be able to see up close,” Banchero said, according to AP. “I actually enjoyed it.”

The enjoyment was made easier after, with the Americans up by 12 with 2:01 left in the third quarter, Banchero hit two consecutive 3-pointers to put the game out of reach.

The haka is a vital part of the culture of the Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, as explained by the team on its website.

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First, an aside about how the team refers to itself from the Sporting News.

The team calls itself the “Tall Blacks,” which is a play on words for the name of the nation’s rugby team, known as the All Blacks for the color of its uniforms.

“The objective of the Tall Blacks’ haka Tū Kaha is purely to help us all stand strong, not only as Tall Blacks or as basketball players, but as a people, as New Zealanders,” the website said.

“One of the lines is ‘Tuturu whakamaua kia tina,’ which means ‘we honor the past, the present, the future.’ This is us acknowledging everybody who has gone before us, those who will surely follow after and the acceptance of the responsibility we have now to prepare the way forward. We are not standing strong because it’s the 12 guys you see standing against you, we are standing strong because it’s you against every Tall Black and all New Zealanders,” the website said.

But as ESPN noted, that was not enough against Americans such as Austin Reaves, noting, “his effect on the flow of the game was profound.”

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“I was one of those kids watching the World Cup [and] the Olympics, so every day I wake up and cherish those moments,” Reaves said.

“I’m from a super small town, and not a lot of people expected me to be here representing our country. So for the [crowds] to accept me the way that they accept me, it means a lot to me,” he said.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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