Nelson Basketball general manager Frances Tilly has just returned from Taipei as the Tall Ferns apprentice coach. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Tilly given coaching shot

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Following the Tall Ferns William Jones Cup win last month, player Penina Davidson walked over to apprentice coach Frances Tilly and offered the Nelson coach her gold medal.

Frances says Penina told her, ‘I want to give you my medal because it means so much to have female coaches.’

She says next to winning the tournament, the moment was a highlight.

“That was a huge moment coming from a player I really admire.”

The Nelson Basketball general manager travelled with the side to Taipei as an apprentice to head coach Guy Molloy, for the 40th edition of the William Jones Cup on July 14-29.

She says the opportunity was presented to her just a month before departure.

“It came out of the blue and I was given 24 hours to make a decision.”

Frances jumped at the opportunity after being given permission from Nelson Basketball.

The Tall Ferns trained in Japan amid in 35-40C heat and 90 percent humidity.

Once the tournament tipped off, the Tall Ferns met Korea, India, Chinese Taipei A and B and Japan, going unbeaten throughout. She says knocking off Korea, who are ranked 16th in the world, (NZ are 42nd) was a highlight.

“We weren’t expected to beat them. It instilled a lot of belief in the girls, it was one of those perfect games where we couldn’t miss a shot.”

In the final against Japan, the Tall Ferns were trailing by 20 points heading into the third quarter but came away with a 85-74 win.

“They just didn’t give up, they kept believing.”

Frances only began coaching ‘seriously’ in 2015 and has since enjoyed a rapid rise through the ranks.

Frances says she hopes to continue her progression and keep developing as a coach. She says she wouldn’t say no should another national opportunity come up.

“Wearing the fern is pretty special.”