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Alipate reflects on his big year and playing for Tonga
Western Australia (Australia) - The Kingdom Tonga barged into the international basketball scene announcing their arrival in their qualification to the 2019 Pacific Games - front and center in the resurgence of Tonga Basketball is team captain, Marcus Alipate.
Tonga returned to the quadrennial event after a 20-year absence through their bronze medal finish in the first-ever FIBA Polynesian Cup held in November 2018.
"To represent the kingdom of Tonga is one of the most unique experiences I’ve had in my life. It’s one thing to play the game of basketball, but it’s another thing to represent a whole country of people who are supporting you," Alipate proudly shared after their 79-77 win over American Samoa to seal their ticket to the regional spectacle.
"It's huge for us to come and play in Samoa and accomplish our goal to play in the Pacific Games. We will be back here next year better and stronger," he then added.
The explosive guard delivered a performance to remember to lead Tonga in the regional qualifier with a tournament-high 39.2 points per game including a historic 55-point output in a win over the Cook Islands.
After his exceptional campaign in the "Poly Cup", the Tongan native was a marked man in the lead-up to the Pacific Games but his scoring exploits would not be denied. Alipate averaged 34.3 points per game although Tonga finished 7th in the 8-team competition, the experience was special for himself and his teammates.
"The level of what it meant for our team to even compete with all the obstacles we faced even getting to the tournaments, let alone competing, showed the resilience we have. Anytime you can put yourself out of your comfort zone and succeed it builds confidence that people can’t take away. The camaraderie we had as a team creates memories that last a lifetime," he shared.
The University of St. Thomas graduate capped his huge 2019 with a championship for his club team, Geraldton Buccaneers in the State Basketball League of Western Australia.
"With this past season in Australia, I felt a sense of pride knowing that I wasn’t only representing my club but also the whole country of Tonga," Alipate said.
Alipate's experience playing basketball in the Pacific has also ignited something within the 27-year old and shared his plans with fiba.basketball moving forward.
"I see myself helping the sport grow in the islands but also helping people with life. I’ve been fortunate to travel the world and play the game I love," Alipate said. "I will be starting a YouTube channel in 2020 about travel, culture, fashion, and sport around the world. The goal with this to help inspire people to get out of their comfort zone, and see how amazing life can be if you believe in yourself."
With his basketball prowess providing him the opportunity in different countries and awareness of the world around him, the budding star of Tonga is ready to his brand to the next level and Tonga basketball alongside with him.