21 - 26
November 2022
10 Austin John Sablan Diaz (NMI)
to read

Micronesia Debut in Winning Fashion

MANGILAO (Guam) – Triple-doubles and double-doubles came hard and fast on the first day of the FIBA Under 15 Oceania Championship in Guam.

Northern Mariana Islands (NMI) battled hard against Micronesia who eventually pulled away to win, 89-68.  NMI led heading into the second quarter and while they fought back in the third, it wasn’t enough.

From the NMI bench Christian Lucero impressed with 25 points and 9 rebounds with Lance Lerio coming away with an elusive triple-double, 15 rebounds, 17 points and 10 turnovers.

With several top performers, Micronesians Kody Akinaga, Yu Nakasone, Ardon Linny and Joshua Iehsi-Panuelo were all outstanding, with Iehsi-Panuelo coming away with a double-double, 28 points and 11 rebounds.

“We just had to stay calm,” Iehsi-Panuelo said after the team’s emphatic win.  “We were very nervous at the start, so we all had to help each other out to make points and celebrate accordingly.”

“Our defence was really tight, and I think we can do much better next game.”

Despite an impressive start in the first quarter, New Zealand was too strong from Samoa running out winners, 104-44.

Samoan Tristan Aufai shot almost half the team score, but it was not enough to lift his team with New Zealand dominant at both ends of the court.

From Team New Zealand, Oscar Goodman finished with 12 points and 9 rebound supported by Troy Plumtree off the bench with a double-double, 14 rebounds and 10 points.  Merrick Rillstone was the team’s top performer with 20 points, shooting at 77 per cent from the field.

“Samoa came out really strong, so we had made the necessary adjustments to get the fast breaks, get the easy lay-ups and shut down their main players,” Rillstone said.

Looking ahead to the rest of the tournament, Rillstone said, “We need to keep looking for the open shots and not trying to force any layups or anything crazy and if you’re open, don’t be afraid to just shoot it.”

In the final match of the day, Australia asserted their dominance over the host nation Guam with a convincing win, 136-35.

Assists, rebounds, turnovers and steals, the Australian contingent were consistent across the board with all except three players scoring double points.  Lachlan Clague was impressive with minimal game time off the bench to be one of the top performers, finishing with 15 points, shooting at 100 per cent from the field.

“We put everything into our training sessions to make sure that we are going hard pace and competing for every single ball, even at training, because we know that if we keep putting in 100 per cent effort then we will be strong come game day,” Clague said.

Looking forward to Samoa tomorrow and New Zealand on Wednesday, Clague said the team can still improve.  “We can work on our defence after tonight, just make sure we get back every time, being humble and making sure we make defence a priority every single session will be key for us.”

From Guam, Lynnwood Baker and Noah Hernandez tried hard for Guam but it simply was not enough.

Day two of the FIBA Under 15 Oceania Championship tips off at University of Guam, Calvo Field House with Samoa taking on Australia at 12:15pm, Papua New Guinea taking on Northern Mariana Islands at 2:30pm and Guam come up 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