Fiji’s men’s basketball team defeated Guam 51-47 to claim gold in a thrilling medal match at the Sol2023 Pacific Games at Honiara’s Friendship Hall on Saturday.
Fiji’s 22-year-old rising star Filimone Waqubaca said: “This means a lot, to our team, our country and our families of course.
“To come this far is not an easy task, competing against the defending champions Guam. They’re a strong great team, and we had to go out there and do our best to win, and we did.”
Fiji captain Marcus Whippy added: “There is no better feeling than excitement. We’re thrilled representing Fiji. We look forward to more great success in men’s basketball in the future”.
In the men’s bronze medal match, New Caledonia comfortably defeated Samoa 97-61.
The player of the match was New Caledonia’s Ethaniel Fenuafanote with 18 points, one rebound and one assist.
In a nail-biting contest for women’s gold, Tahiti beat Cook Islands 53-46.
Tahiti captain Herehau Eleonor Teissier said: “I’m very happy to win this medal. It wasn’t easy, there were a lot of tough games, but I want to thank everyone behind us for making this possible”.
In the women’s bronze medal match, Fiji secured the spoils, defeating Samoa 63-55.
Fiji captain Kayla Mendez said: “It was a battle from the beginning to the end. Our semi-final was a close game, only a one-point difference, which is not what we expected.
“But the girls found strength in messages from our families and friends saying ‘you’ve got this’ so we recouped and we played like it was the last game we were ever going to play.”
Letava Kenny of Fiji was awarded player of the match, scoring 28 points, collecting 10 rebounds and three assists.
Samoa was disappointed to come away with nothing, having lost both bronze medal matches.
The contests ended an exciting week of basketball action at Friendship Hall. The focus now switches to Basketball 3×3, which will take place from Wednesday 29 November to Saturday 2 December at SIFF Academy.
By Walter Sale, Delisha Koime and Lynnissha Runa, Pacific Games News Service