Tonga edged New Caledonia 82-80 in a nail-biting men’s basketball contest at Honiara’s Friendship Hall on Saturday, the highlight of a day of well attended action on day two of the competition.
The highly anticipated clash delivered an intense battle that held spectators spellbound until the closing minutes of the second half.
The electric atmosphere in Friendship Hall mirrored the high stakes of the competition, with both teams showcasing skill, determination, and sportsmanship throughout the game.
Against the raucous backdrop, Tonga’s Antonio Aziziyan told the Pacific Games News Service: “New Caledonia got the better of us in the first half; they are a formidable team. However, we were confident that we could level the playing field and emerge victorious.”
Aziziyan’s acknowledgment of New Caledonia’s strength adds a layer of respect to the competition, underscoring the fierce contest and the high level of skill demonstrated by both teams. His confidence in the Tonga national team’s ability to rebound and secure the victory speaks volumes about the resilience and determination of the players.
Aziziyan underscored his team’s commitment to the Pacific Games, adding: “We are well-prepared and the team will exert maximum effort and unity to secure victories in our upcoming games”.
In Saturday evening’s Melanesian blockbuster, PNG defeated Solomon Islands 81-34 in an ultimately one-sided encounter.
PNG coach Moi Muri said he was extremely happy with the victory in their first outing at Sol2023. “It’s awesome that we started the Games with a win. That’s what we prepared for and worked hard for.”
PNG captain Apia Muri said: “I want to thank the fans, especially all PNG-SI nationals living here in Honiara, thank you for coming out and giving us big support”.
Solomon Islands coach Bryce Masae said: “It was a really tough game. PNG was aggressive from the start. We did expect them to be very strong and fast. However, we contained them but then it went out of hand again”.
Masae said that, despite the loss, his team’s hopes are still high. “We’re still fighting for the country and looking forward to a good result against Guam on Tuesday.”
In Saturday’s earlier match, Fiji defeated Tahiti 70-45.
In the one match in the women’s competition on Saturday, Fiji defeated Solomon Islands 82-43.
By Steven Kamoa and Lynnissha Runa, Pacific Games News Service