American Samoa wins the Gold Medal in the Pacific Games
Apia (Samoa) – American Samoa is hailed as the new Pacific Games queens after dethroning erstwhile champion Fiji, 74-53, in the Finals of the 2019 Women’s Basketball event.
It was a fitting vengeance for the American Samoans who bowed to tormentor Fiji in the 2015 Pacific Games champion to settle for a Silver Medal finish.
Motivated from that experience, American Samoa just would not let the Gold Medal slip from its way this time after shocking the Fijians with a 24-13 opening salvo.
But proving their championship pedigree, Fiji refused to just go down without a fight, limiting American Samoa to just six points in the second frame to make it a 28-30 ball game at the half.
Both teams traded blows since but American Samoa proved to be steadier team down the wire especially in the fourth quarter where they ran away with a 22-9 spree to successfully steal the Gold from the former champion.
Sarah Toeaina piled up 29 points and 12 rebounds to pace the American Samoans who completed a clean sweep of the tournament in the Pacific’s prestigious quadrennial basketball showpiece.
Leah Salanoa and Jazmine Davis also contributed big time with 14 and 13 markers, respectively.
Fiji, on the other hand, had its back-to-back championship bid foiled as Val Nainima and Letava Whippy could not lift their team to glory in this edition of the Games.
Nainima and Whippy scored 15 apiece in an unfortunate loss.
Nevertheless, Fiji, together with newest Pacific Games titlist American Samoa have booked their tickets to the Division B of the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup as the top two teams this edition.
Meanwhile, host team Samoa snatched the Bronze Medal from Guam in a thrilling fashion, 87-85, as the 2019 Pacific Games women's basketball came to a close.
Malama Leaupepe starred for the Samoans, scoring the last four points of the match including the game-winning jumper in the last 19 seconds to deny Guam the Bronze Medal.
Guam still had a chance to regain the lead but it muffed its chance the next possession much to the delight of the frenetic Samoa home crowd.
Leaupepe finished with a monstrous performance with tournament-high 50 points, 21 rebounds, five assists, two steals, and two blocks to lift Samoa into the gigantic win.
Cherish Manumaleuga backstopped her with 13 points and six boards.
Samoa, which suffered a 49-83 beating from American Samoa in the Semis, proved its eagerness to come back and finish at the podium with a strong 24-16 start.
But Guam found its touches, taking the succeeding frames for a 57-51 lead entering the final canto before Samoa leaned on Leaupepe's late-game heroics to steal the game.
Guam, on the other hand, was just on the receiving end of Leaupepe's 50-point eruption en route to collapse despite five players scoring in double digits.
Mia San Nicolas and Destiny Castro, once again, led the way with 20 and 19 markers, respectively for Guam which improved on its fifth-place finish in the 2015 Pacific Games.