26 - 29
October 2022
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Speed to be the Game Changer - PNG Captain Muri

SUVA (Fiji) – Initially slated for 2021, the second edition of the FIBA Melanesian Basketball Cup finally tips off in Suva on Wednesday October 26, with four participating nations raring to compete.

The tournament which got deferred due to the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 global pandemic, will feature some of the best ballers in the Oceania region, anticipating to shine once again.

Ensuring they shine the brightest, the reigning women’s champs, Papua New Guinea, is looking to stamp their mark as they tackle neighbours Solomon Islands, in the tournament’s opening match.

The side danced to victory unbeaten, in front of the home crowd at the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2017. They tipped Fiji (63-54) and New Caledonia (61-48), before knocking Solomon Islands (105-53) in the final pool match. Having a renewed confidence and home crowd advantage, they finally put the nail in the coffin for Fiji with a strong (77-58) gold medal win.

Captain Marca Muri is ready to lead her platoon to battle a second time, but the FIBA Melanesian Cup 2017 All-Star five honour player believes, that speed could be the key to victory.

“It’s just that we lack in height, but we believe in our speed, that is the strength we have,” Muri said.

Knowing that game, reaction, movement, displacement, and endurance speed is vital in basketball, Muri is looking to maximize on this skill to retain the title.

She will also be banking on the experience from seasoned and experienced players like Rosa Kairi, Elina Yaya, Normalissa Dobunaba, Mary Elavo and star player Betty Angula (fellow All-Star Five honour player) to repeat history.

“The team is completely locally based and the experience and skill level the senior players bring will give that added depth and strength for the side,” Muri added. “We are also working on improving our defense as the tournament nears.”

Participating teams will be looking to topple the champs, however, Muri believes that Fiji will provide the toughest challenge and she happily anticipates the match.

“We are looking forward to playing Fiji,” Muri said.  “They came second in the 2017 Mela Cup; they will want to go a notch up and so they’ll be coming back hard this time.”

With Pacific Games 2023 qualification on the line, Muri is aware of what is at stake and knows it would be prudent for PNG to remain focused, as becoming too complacent could be costly.

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.

FIBA - Finau Vulivuli