Medal Matches Locked In
MANGILAO (Guam) – A rematch of the FIBA Under 15 Oceania Championships 2018 gold medal match is all set for 2022 with Australia set to line-up against New Zealand.
Australia was too strong for Samoa in the first semi final storming through to the gold medal match undefeated, 110-46.
Another consistent scorecard for the Australians had Indy Cotton, Lachlan Kanngiesser, Harrison Beauchamp, Aaron Gashaw, Sam Hughs and Nash Walker amongst the top performers.
“We had our team huddle before and we obviously have some things to work on for tomorrow’s game, but as a leader I take that upon myself to make sure the boys are on point,” Walker said. “For me, I thought tonight was my best game of the week, but we must build on that and do well again tomorrow.”
Ahead of tomorrow’s gold medal match, Team Australia will head in as firm favourites. “There are always nerves there, but if we play like we have throughout the week then we will get the job done,” Walker said.
For Samoa, Tristan Aufai and Dahtanian Okesene strung together solid performances as they now look to regroup for their bronze medal match against Guam.
New Zealand held out the host nation, Guam to secure a spot in the gold medal match to take on Australia, 116-70.
Guam had the heart with, William Aisek, Michael Jr Mike Bork and Noah Hernandez all putting in amicable performances, but it was not enough.
Cooper Lepou finished with 23 points and Jameer Reed finished nicely with a double-double, 16 points, 19 rebounds and 8 assists.
“We just wanted to make sure we could get it done tonight, full effort for 40 minutes and to keep the pressure up,” Lepou said. “Keeping our defence high has been our man focus so if we can execute that, our offence just happens.”
Heading into the gold medal match tomorrow after a big week, Lepou said the boys are up for the challenge. “I’ve done these sorts of tournaments before in New Zealand so I’m getting used to these formats, little niggles here and there but I’m all good. We just need to get our bodies right for tomorrow, get that rest is the main part.”
Micronesia (FSM) cemented a top five finish at the FIBA U15 Oceania Championship with a 68-77 win over the Northern Mariana Islands (NMI).
In an evenly matched game, the FSM contingent put in a big second half to secure the win and start the building process for basketball development throughout FSM.
“This means a lot to us, not just us under 15 group but the entire FSM state,” Coach Ryan Yamada said. “It’s the first time we have been apart of a tournament like this so we know it will have a flow on effect.”
“I am very proud of the team, even to come and play at this tournament, this experience is going to take them to another level. I’m very proud of each and every one of them, including their families here and everyone back home who is just screaming for us. To get a couple wins is a big thing for us.”
Ryu Nakasone from FSM played a brilliant game to finish off his FIBA U15 Oceania Championship 2022 campaign with 12 points, 5 steals and 4 rebounds.
“It felt good to get the win, we had to come out and play our hardest,” Nakasone said. “It’s a great experience here to meet great players from other countries and places. I hope I can keep playing at a high level when I return home and we will keep doing what we do, we might be small, but we have big hearts.”
Playing with this twin brother, Yu, this relationship has encouraged the two to develop on and off the basketball court. “He (Yu) pushes me a lot, even during the game, we challenge each other who has the better stats,” Nakasone said.
Daniel Amor and Joshua Iehsi-Panuelo from FSM also put in formidable performances in today’s match, with Christian Lucero and Lance Lerio from NMI also putting together great games.
FIBA Under 15 Oceania Championship finals tip off at University of Guam, Calvo Field House tomorrow with Northern Mariana Islands playing Papua New Guinea at 10am, Samoa taking on Guam in the bronze medal match at 2:30pm and Australia set to fight for gold against New Zealand at 7pm local time.
The FIBA U15 Oceanian Championships serve as qualifiers for the FIBA U16 Asian Championships 2023 with the top two teams going through. The FIBA U15 Oceania Championships will be hosted in Guam from November 21 to November 26 - Follow the event here