The FIBA Polynesian Cup basketball tournament officially kicked off yesterday at the National University of Samoa gym.
The host Samoa, Cooks Islands, Tahiti, American Samoa and Tonga will go head-to-head in the six-day tournament.
The tournament will feature both men’s and women’s teams and will use a round robin format in the group stage, with the top four teams qualifying for the finals.
Samoa Basketball Federation president Tala Pauga said they were delighted to be hosting the regional basket championship.
“We are extremely delighted to host our first FIBA basketball event in our country. This is the perfect tournament for us to assess our basketball program in preparation for the Pacific Games next year,” he said.
Polynesian teams that want to participate in the 2019 Pacific Games will use the Polynesian Cup as a qualifier.
FIBA Oceania competitions manager, Amanda Jenkins, said they worked with the Samoa Basketball Federation to prepare the regional sporting event.
“We have been working hard with the Samoa Basketball Federation to prepare for the event, this is an important competition for the region because it gives them the pathway to compete to the Pacific Games that will serve as the qualifier to the FIBA Asia Cup,” she said.
In the opening match yesterday, American Samoa took on Cook Islands in the men’s competition while Tonga took on American Samoa in the women’s. The other matches in the group include Samoa versus Tahiti in men and Samoa versus Cook Islands in the women.
The Samoa women’s team captain, Linda Junita Kelsall, told Samoa Observer that hosting the tournament in Apia would put added pressure on her team, but then it also gives them the confidence to do their best on the court.