17 - 25
November 2023
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Cook Islands Through to First Ever Medal Match

HONIARA (Solomon Islands) - Cook Islands will play in their first ever Pacific Games basketball medal match after defeating Fiji by one point.

Both semi final matches were decided by one point with Tahiti set to line up for their seventh Pacific Games gold medal appearance after defeating Samoa, 56-55.

“It’s so surreal, we have waited for four years to get to this match, and there are some veterans in this team who have waited so long for this to come,” Cook Islands Captain, Te Araroa Sopoaga said.

“Mad respect for Fiji, but I’m just so incredibly proud of the girls and to be a Cook Islander.”

Fouled out late in the final quarter, Sopoaga said she had full confidence in her team to get the win.  “I trust my girls, all nine of them, and our coach, I’m just so proud and excited to play in the gold medal match tomorrow.”

While the match contained several turning points, Ajiah Pepe knocked down a crucial three-pointer just on three-quarter-time to tie up the game, 34-34, and the Cook Islanders were hungrier for the chance to win gold.

In the other semi-final, it was a narrow margin at half time, and Tahiti came out of the change rooms on a mission to level the scores early in the third and never looked back, heading into the final quarter with a 5-point lead, 42-31.

Momentum swung both ways and tensions were high in the final quarter, but it was Tahiti who stood tall.  They pushed hard, with solid defensive pressure, winning 56-55.

“We are very tired, we have had games all week, and not much time to rest,” Mahinetea Tavanae said.  “It was a difficult game, we were all there for each other, and that’s how we won.  We wanted to win, and we all adopted that mentality.”  Tavanae finished with 13 points, and six rebounds, guiding her team to the pinnacle match of the competition.

Cook Islands will play Tahiti tomorrow in the gold medal match at Friendship Hall from 2pm local time, while in the bronze medal match, Samoa will come up against Fiji at 9am local time.

The Pacific Games are being hosted by Solomon Islands from November 19 – December 2, 2023.  The Pacific Games Women’s Basketball Tournament is the official qualifiers of the Oceania region to the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup Division B.