26 - 29
October 2022
15 Moana Liebregts (FIJ)
to read

Fiji & PNG to Fight it out for Gold

SUVA (Fiji) – Fiji and Papua New Guinea will meet for the gold medal match at the FIBA Melanesian Cup tomorrow with New Caledonia and Solomon Islands fighting it out for bronze.

In the bronze medal preview today, New Caledonia were too strong for the Solomon Islands coming away with the win, 69-38.

16-year-old, Monique Wanefai and Iysha Poula Mauriasi did their best for the Solomon Islands, but it wasn’t enough with New Caledonia shutting down key play maker, Maya Tepua Van Den Heever.

Small forward, Adeline Souque was consistent for New Cal with Enola Ah Ah Tchung and Captain, Yolene Koteureu both finishing with 13 points each.  Competing at a high level throughout this tournament, New Cal have been impressive and Koteureu is happy to lead from the front to inspire those fighting for a spot in the team back home.

“I’m quite old, so I need to lead by example for the next generation,” Captain Koteureu said.  “There are a lot of players waiting back home to be on this team so it’s great to have a competitive national side once again.”

Following the win Koteureu said that the future is bright for the entire team who have played inspired basketball at the tournament.  “We are feeling great, we have had two strong games against Fiji and PNG, and we showed that New Caledonia basketball is alive again.  I am proud of all the girls, we fought for the win today and tomorrow we will do the same thing.”

Fiji held out a fast-finishing Papua New Guinea (PNG) in the gold medal preview, 65-54.

While it looked like Fiji were going to runaway with the match, in true PNG fashion, they fought back in the last half and kept the pressure on the host nation.  Fiji Captain, Kayla Mendez said the girls anticipated a tough match against the defending champions.

“We knew coming into this game that it was going to be a battle, the full thirty minutes, and that’s what it was,” Mendez said.  “They didn’t let up and it was really tough to guard them, their guards are scrappy and hard to defend, they’re fit, and they run the floor.  Our mindset was coming in was knowing it would be a battle.

“Everyone knew coming in that when they stepped on the court, they had to bring the energy.  Regardless of where they would be or who they were guarding, it was a team effort to get stops on defence, one stop at a time and not trying to jump ahead.  Every quarter we started we said, ‘this is a new game’ so we tried not to get too high and too low and stay composed.”

Fiji held PNG Captain Marca Muri and key play maker Betty Angula to 11 points between them which played a significant role in their win.  “Knowing them (Marca and Betty) over the years, we know they are keys to the team.  These two players get them going, we needed to limit their looks at the basket and even their scoring, that may affect the rest of the team and force other players to step up. 

The FIBA Melanesian Cup 2022 wraps up tomorrow with the following finals matches.

BRONZE MEDAL MATCH | New Caledonia Vs Solomon Islands (12pm local time)

GOLD MEDAL MATCH | Fiji Vs Papua New Guinea (5pm local time)

All games will be livestreamed on the FIBA YouTube Channel.

The top two teams at the Melanesian Cup will qualify for the 2023 Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands.  The Pacific Games then serves as the official qualifier for the Oceania region to the FIBA Asia Cup Pre-Qualifiers.