“Start strong, finish strong” Fiji’s hard work pays off with first win
SUVA (FIBA U18 Oceania Championship) – Fiji secured their first win of the tournament on day two of competition, beating Tahiti 56-29.
Fiji led from start to finish in what was a dominant display. Leaving head coach Esala Banuve (Sonny) proud of his team’s efforts.
“Playing in front of our home crowd, it’s a happy feeling” said Banuve.
“We are so happy that we got this win. It was a good start, one of our philosophies is start strong, finish strong. We are happy that we won in front of our people who came to support us.”
Captain Losalini Katia put in a huge performance. Leading the game in scoring along with Mafi Foiakau, who both scored 16 points. Katia also totalled 11 rebounds. The Fijian captain’s performance was pivotal in establishing Fiji’s dominant presence inside, outscoring their opposition 26-8 for points in the paint.
Coach Banuve, a member of the Fiji national men’s team, spent months in preparation with the team for the tournament.
“It took me three to four months of connecting with these girls…I’ve coached some of these girls at club level so I’ve known them a bit. I know how to put them on the court, I have confidence that when I put them on the court they’re confident as well… that’s why we got this win” said Banuve.
Reigning 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship winners Australia await on day three of competition. Coach Banuve understands the challenge that awaits but is confident in his team’s ability.
“I’m confident that they’ll give a good challenge to Australia, but Australia’s a good team. They just came from the world championship and they just won the event. Our goal playing tomorrow against Australia is to give our best shot.”