Brave Samoa outclassed in the end by Tahiti
Samoa face a rematch against Tahiti in the FIBA Polynesian Women’s Basketball Cup semi-final after losing 76-53 to them yesterday.
Tahiti looked the superior team and lead the game from start to finish, but Samoa can be proud to have kept it close until the 4th quarter.
Tahiti got out to a quick 8 point lead before Samoan captain Linda Junita Kelsall stopped the bleeding with an and-one five minutes into the game.
From there, Samoa stepped things up and kept the game close to even, with Tahiti’s lead fluctuating around eight for most of the half.
While Samoa had shot a better percentage from the field (38% to 31%), Tahiti had ten offensive rebounds to Samoa’s one, meaning they could get a lot more shots up.
Two 3-pointers in a minute to Mahine Kamakea Tepu threatened to bury Samoa early in the 3rd quarter, but they showed plenty of heart to battle back.
Samoan big Frances Teneva Ropati got into her work inside, drawing plenty of attention and either finishing or getting to the line.
The battle between her (12 points, 6 rebounds) and Oceane Julie Poerani Lefranc (19 points, 16 rebounds) inside went a long way to deciding the match.
Samoa got the deficit back to the smallest it had been all game with the score 51-45 at 3-quarter time, after a beautiful dish from Courtenay Paige Le’Au’Anae set up Ropati for a buzzer-beating layup.
Having won the 3rd quarter 22-21, Samoa could have been forgiven for dreaming of a comeback victory.
However a 12-2 run for Tahiti early in the 4th quarter all but ended any chance Samoa had of winning the game.
The Tahiti defence tightened right up in the 4th, with Samoa only managing 3 made field goals in the final term.
The 23 point loss is a slightly unfair reflection on Samoa’s play, but the better team certainly won.
Tahiti played like a more seasoned version of the Samoan team playing a similar style with full-court presses and inside-out passing.
In the end their size, experience and willingness to shoot the 3 made the difference over the young Samoan team.
The teams will face off again in the second semi-final at 7pm on Friday night at the N.U.S. Gym.