01 - 05
November 2022
13 Yolande Luepak (CAL), 5 Diana Moutry (CAL), 14 Cynderella Fanalupe (CAL), 11 Ajiah Pepe (COK)
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Run it Back: Cook Islands Women Focused on Remaining at the Top

KAITAIA (New Zealand) - With the 2022 Women’s Poly Cup looming, one squad has its sights set on a repeat.

The reigning Poly Cup champions, Cook Islands, marched through the 2018 version, storming to a 5-0 record featuring a +116 point differential.

Cook Islands dismantled Samoa, 80-47, took down Tahiti, 53-35, and obliterated American Samoa, 92-27, to earn a spot in the final round in 2018.

There, Cook trounced American Samoa on its way to the championship, defeating Tahiti, 91-58 at the N.U.S. Gymnasium in Apia, Samoa.

Keziah-Brittany Lewis won Tournament MVP after scoring 22 points in the title game, and Terai Sadler earned a spot on the Poly Cup All-Star Team.

As a result, Cook Islands qualified to represent Polynesia at the 2019 Pacific Games. At the Pacific Games, the nation finished in sixth place finish out of eight teams but won a Silver Medal in 3x3 Basketball.

After the smashing success in 2018, the Cook Islands Basketball Federation elected an all-female board to push the country’s basketball future forward.

“We are extremely excited for this opportunity and raring to prove the direction that our Federation is taking moving forward,” President Richelle Gempton told Cook Islands News in 2021. “CIBF has great foundations with our programs … and our recent success in international competitions, especially in women’s basketball has shown the potential of basketball in our country.”

The foundation has since pushed programmes in Mini Basketball and 3x3 Basketball. Cook Islands participated in the 2016 FIBA 3x3 Women’s World Championships in China.

“It's important to show the youth the pathway that they can put in as their goals so we can give them a platform to showcase their talent to the world,” Gempton said. “Basketball’s popularity is continuing to rise in the country and we are very excited on this journey of making it bigger, with the right support and effort from our officials, I am confident we are in a great position to deliver on our goals and objectives.”

The top two teams at the Poly 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.