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November 2023
25/11/2023
News
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Gold for Tahiti

HONIARA (Solomon Islands) - Tahiti have won gold at the 2023 Pacific Games in Honiara, Solomon Islands.

Cook Islands were gallant in defeat, and in their first ever medal match, but Tahiti dug deep to come away with a win, their first gold medal since the 2011 Pacific Games.

“We are so happy to win gold,” Tahiti Captain, Herehau Teissier said.  “I have so many emotions, and just so much joy to win this medal at the Pacific Games.”

Mathilde Bayle was impressive with 12 points, and 6 rebounds.  The ever-reliable Ocean Lefranc also stood tall to finish with 6 points, and 7 rebounds.

Mathilde Bayle top scored for Tahiti with 12 points.

Tahiti’s pressure matched the never-ending Cook Island surges led by Ajjah Pepe, and Elianna Tuaiti.

“It wasn’t an easy, we had a lot of tough games this week, and I’m just so happy to be standing here, knowing we have won gold,” Teissier said.

With the 2027 Pacific Games set to be hosted by Tahiti, we know that this team of women will be back stronger than ever to defend their title.  In the meantime, Tahiti have now qualified for the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup Division B and we cannot wait to see them take on the Asian teams.

In the bronze medal match, Fiji overcame a gallant Samoa to win a spot on the podium, 63-55.

“It was a battle from the beginning to the end, playing six games this week in this heat for both of our teams, it was crucial for us to bounce back from our close semi-final loss,” Fiji Captain, Kayla Mendez said.

Letava Kenny in action for Fiji.

Mendez’s sister, Letava Kenny was once again standout with a double-double, hitting 28 shots and racking up 10 rebounds, while Mili Koyamainavure was strong offensively to come away with 14 points, and 6 assists.

With both semi-finals being decided by one point, both Fiji and Samoa felt the physical and mental toll of their final Pacific Games match.

 “Trying to get our legs and mindset right after the semis was tough, we lost, and it hurt but we had to move on and focus on this bronze medal game.  We call it the ‘fighting spirit’ in Fiji, we just had to push through it like it was the last game we will ever play.”

Having won silver at the 2019 Pacific Games, Fiji settled for bronze and will now work towards the 2025 FIBA Melanesian Cup and subsequent 2027 Pacific Games.

“It (bronze medal) means everything to us, especially being able to mentor our younger players,” Mendez said.  “The first thing that I told our younger players post-game was ‘this is your team in four years, you may not have got on the court today, but in two years you have the Mela Cup, and in four years you have the Pacific Games, you need to continue your training and stick to basketball.’”

“We play for the name on the front of our jersey, not the name on the back.”

For Samoa, Azaleeah Oloapu led her team as the top performer and rebound Queen, with Kira-May Filemu leading point scorer with an average of 12.8, and Captain Tyla Paraha providing the most assists for her troops.

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.