Samoa settles for a shot at third

For the second time in three days the Samoa national women’s basketball team lost to Tahiti at the FIBA Polynesia Cup.

Last night’s 91-75 semifinal loss puts Samoa in the Bronze medal match against American Samoa at 1pm today at the N.U.S. Gym.

Coach Mulinu’u Leauanae said there’s still plenty of pride on the line.

“We still gotta hold our heads up and get ready for the next game, get that Bronze medal.”

Samoa started well against Tahiti after losing to them on Wednesday night.

They led 26-16 after the first quarter, having gotten the strong start that eluded them in the previous game.

But starting point guard Taylor Tamapua Muaulu went down injured after just 34 seconds, and Samoa would begin to struggle without their playmaker.

Aufui Sau (averaging 14 points and 8.7 rebounds coming into the game) fouled out having played just 10 minutes, and suddenly Samoa were without two key players.

“That really impacted us big time, having to go to the bench so early in the game,” said Leauanae.

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He was proud of his team for hanging in there.

“The rest of the game we were neck-and-neck, but that 2nd quarter had us playing catch-up,” he said.

Tahiti scored 25 points in the second quarter to Samoa’s 4.

“We didn’t run our structures, the players on the court started to play as individuals, didn’t play team stuff,” Leauanae said.

“I guess it’s the heat of the moment, plus Tahiti played good defence.”

That defence struggled to contain Samoa’s Cherish Manumaleuga, whose 34 points is the highest individual scoring total in a game at the tournament so far.

But otherwise Samoa toiled away offensively with little reward, including shooting just 52% from the free throw line.

“The whole tournament we haven’t been shooting that well, if we made half the shots we should’ve, that’s enough to have won,” said Leauanae.

“That’s an individual thing, you’ve gotta do the work and bring it to the tournament.”

Leauanae praised the vocal support Samoa was getting from the hometown fans.

“That was our 13th player, we are looking forward to tomorrow,” he said.

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