Stage is set for Quarterfinals Action
MANGILAO (Guam) – Guam have defeated Samoa in an absolute thriller at the FIBA Under 15 Oceania Championships in front of a vocal home crowd.
Samoa led by one at quarter time and dominated the third quarter with Guam returning serve to fight for the win in the second and fourth quarter.
Bailey Nooroa, Mason Liva, Nehemiah Su’a and Tristan Aufai were all brilliant for Samoa who pushed the host nation to the very end. With less than 60 seconds to go, Samoa was up by 5, but with team fouls maxed out, Noah Hernandez stepped up to the plate to sink a three and draw a foul for the +1.
Guam showed true grit with a consistent team performance across the board. Hernandez finished with 9 points and 8 rebounds to be amongst the top performers, but it was Michael Jr Mike Bork with 28 points who was an offensive machine.
“I just played how I play and didn’t care about external things,” Bork said. “I prepared with a good mindset and focused on the game and what I wanted to do on the court. We really wanted this win, so it feels great to get it.”
Guam will now face Papua New Guinea tomorrow in the quarterfinals.
Papua New Guinea (PNG) pushed Micronesia (FSM) all the way at the University of Guam, Calvo Field House, with FSM grinding out to win by 10 points, 85-75.
Noah Yangomina was outstanding for PNG, finishing with a massive 34 points and 23 rebounds while Daniel Nou came away with 11 rebounds.
Three individual performances from FSM underpinned their success with Joshua Iehsi-Panuelo finishing with a double-double, 35 points and 13 rebounds with Kody Akinaga shooting 15 of his own and Daniel Amor coming away with a triple-double, 21 rebounds, 20 points and 13 turnovers.
“I feel great, I just ran the ball to the rim and went with the flow,” Amor said. “We really relied on our bench towards the end of the game and gave 110 per cent for four quarters.
We are going to come our tomorrow and play our best.
In a physical encounter, Australia over-powered a courageous New Zealand, 100-89.
This was a rematch of the FIBA U15 Championship 2018 gold medal match with New Zealand out to prove a point, leading at quarter time, Oscar Goodman, Merrick Rillstone and Lachlan Crate all made significant contributes to the tough performance.
For the Aussies, Dash Daniels, Harrison Beauchamp, Henry Sewell, and Indy Cotton were all impressive with Cotton shooting at 100 per cent to finish with 18 points.
“It felt good, getting around the boys, they make it so much easier to play,” Cotton said. “If you communicate with them, they kick you the ball and it’s easy to find shots.”
Cotton acknowledged the New Zealand hand the jump on them at the start of the game, but the message was clear from coaching staff. “Don’t be intimidated, come out with the same aggression, I thought at the start we got a bit ‘showy-off’ because they came out with the Haka and sprayed us in the first quarter, but we came out in the strong in the second half and got the win.
Both Australia and New Zealand will enjoy a rest day tomorrow with remaining teams to fight it out for shot against the Oceania powerhouse in the semi-finals on Friday.
Day four and quarterfinals of the FIBA Under 15 Oceania Championship tips off at University of Guam, Calvo Field House with Guam taking on Papua New Guinea at 11:15am and Samoa coming up against Micronesia at 3:45pm 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