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Cook Islands, Tahiti qualify to the Pacific Games
APIA, Samoa (Women's Polynesian Cup) - Tahiti turned back a spirited Samoa side with a 91-75 victory to punch their ticket to the Pacific Games and set a championship duel with the Cook Islands.
Oceania LeFranc had a herculean effort with a massive double-double (25 points and 19 rebounds) while Pitoura Lucie Matohil and Aeata Oceana Hana Tepu chipped in 16 points apiece.
"We started slow because we lacked discipline on defense, the crowd helped them to a strong start. But when we settled down and played our game we were able to take control of the game," said LeFranc.
"We are pleased to qualify for the Pacific Games, and we will try our best to win the gold against the Cook Islands tomorrow," she added.
The Tahitians unleashed a 21-2 run to close the first half capped by Mahine Tepu's triple at the buzzer to take a 41-30 lead at the break.
Cherish Manamaluega paced the host country with 34 points while Frances Ropati had a double-double with 14 points and 18 rebounds.
Meanwhile, Cook Islands secured their berth in next year's Pacific Games with a 92-44 victory over American Samoa extending their immaculate record to 4-0.
Keziah-Brittany Lewis led a balanced effort with 22 points while Adoniah Lewis and Dalen Pilitati added 14 points each.
"It's an amazing opportunity for us to qualify in the Pacific Games next year and we are thrilled with this win," said Jasmine Davis.
"Our team is a mix of players based in different countries, but finally we all came together to represent our country," she added.
The COK's suffocating pressure defense provided the backbone for their win forcing American Samoa to commit 39 turnovers.
Racquelle Toleafoa of American Samoa bullied her way to a 20-point, 10-rebound effort while Mariah Masoli added 13 points.