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SUVA, (FIBA) – In a balanced scoring effort the tournament favourites Australia overpowered Tahiti in the opening game of the FIBA U18 Oceania Championships.
Australia’s Chantel Horvat finished with a game-high 17 points while Ezi Magbegor added 14 points and 13 rebounds.
The championship host nation, Fiji, couldn’t quite seem to find their feet in front of the home crowd. After a slow first quarter from both teams, Samoa got going offensively on the back of Telesia Manumaleuga 16 points and 6 rebounds.
Fiji’s Losalini Katia did what she could by adding 9 points and 15 rebounds but it was enough to get the hosts over the line.
New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea women put on a show of athleticism and toughness, both teams getting after every loose ball and 50/50 play. Papua New Guinea showed tremendous fight and played to the last whistle but unfortunately couldn’t get the reward that their efforts deserved.
New Caledonia’s Anais Tuufui put in a solid showing with 16 points and Papua New Guinea’s Svetlana Arthur couldn’t quite get it going on the scoreboard but pulled down 16 rebounds.
Guam came up against a formidable New Zealand team in the last women’s game for the day. They fought hard but were outmatched by a New Zealand team with their sights set on gold and a qualification spot to the FIBA U19 Women’s World Championships in 2017.
New Zealand’s Akiene Reed opened her tournament with a 22-point outing and Ky’Lanie Ogo top scored for Guam with 6 points and 4 rebounds.
New Caledonia and Samoa did not disappoint; this was the game of the tournament so far. The raw athleticism and passion was a sight to behold, both teams battling back and forth until the last siren.
After being down for most of the fourth quarter, New Caledonia managed to bring it back to level terms in the last minute and went on to pull off a hard-fought victory. Enoka Laloine led New Caledonia’s balanced scoring attack with 14 points and Joseph Vaetoe added 15 points for Samoa.
The hosts drew the primetime spot to close the day’s games. After a close first quarter, Guam turned up the heat with a 21-6 second quarter. Proving too much for Fiji on the offensive end, Guam went on to take out the win quite comfortably. Michael Min top scored for Guam with 16 points and Colin Lal added 16 points for the host nation.