Samoa won bronze at the FIBA Womens’ Polynesian Basketball Cup at N.U.S. Gym yesterday.
They defeated American Samoa 70-53 to take a spot on the podium.
Cherish Manumaleuga (16.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2 assists per game) was named in the tournament’s All Star Five for her stellar individual play.
Samoan captain Linda Junita Kelsall said her girls are stoked to have come 3rd.
“It wasn’t easy, winning here at home is like a dream come true for us.
“Especially with our families watching, and it being live on TV.
“This is a good lifetime experience for us, especially us young players.
“We wanna thank all of Samoa for their support.”
A robust full-court press was the biggest factor in Samoa’s win, with American Samoa turning the ball over often before they could get into their offence.
Samoa forced 32 turnovers in the game, more than double the 15 they conceded themselves.
The extra possessions meant a fairly comfortable win, despite American Samoa shooting better from the field (39 to 35.5%) and the free-throw line (66.7% to 50%).
When American Samoa did break the press, they were able to score easily enough in the halfcourt.
But all too often for them, the turnovers led to points for Samoa (21-9 in that statistic) and they could push the pace (fast break points 14-4).
As the younger, more athletic side Samoa thrived when they were able to speed the game up and get out in the open floor
Fialauia Faifeau Hunt paced Samoa with 18 points, while Aufui Sau had 13 rebounds as part of her second double-double of the tournament.
After lasting just 34 seconds of Friday night’s semi-final against Tahiti, starting point guard Taylor Tamapua Muaulu didn’t play at all yesterday.
She and her teammates and coaches still all received medals last night, and Samoa’s national womens’ basketball team will take confidence and learnings from this result into the Pacific Games next year.