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Silver for Samoa at Polynesian Cup

Two close defeats to Tahiti bookended an otherwise successful FIBA Polynesian Cup for the Samoa men’s basketball team.

Samoa were beaten 77-73 in the final last night at N.U.S. Gym for their second loss of the tournament.

They got off to a good start but couldn’t get the lead any higher than 11.

In the 2nd quarter, Samoa got away from the ball movement that had been so effective all week.

This individual play continued deep into the 3rd quarter, and having ramped up their defence Tahiti found themselves with a 12 point lead to protect down the stretch.

In the 4th quarter, Samoa rediscovered what had made them successful all tournament long and got rolling.

Their pressing defence created fast break situations, forcing Tahitian mistakes and pushing the ball forward quickly.

Theo McFarland (13 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 steals, +6 plus/minus) had another strong game with his ability to grab-and-go fuelling most of Samoa’s best play.

But he only shot 5 of 13 from the field, missing shots around the basket that had gone in all week long.

With two minutes to play, Samoa had drawn within two points.

But a sloppy finish to the game cost them the win.

Coach Steve Schuster said there were too many turnovers, especially crucial ones at the end.

“But we can fix that.

“And this tournament was about experimenting for us.

“Our young guys, they stepped up tonight.”

Schuster said he was proud his side came that close to winning against an experienced Tahiti team.

“Our aim for this tournament was top four, and silver is better than nothing,” he said.

Tahiti won despite shooting worse than Samoa on the night.

Their offensive rebounding gave them 20 second chance points to Samoa’s six.

Tahiti Big man Reihiti Sommers and guard Ariimarau Meuel were both named to the tournament All Star Five, with Meuel also picking up MVP honours.

Samoa’s McFarland and Sapeti Tufuga (22 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists on 53% shooting in the final) were both named to the tournament All-Star Five at the prizegiving ceremony after the match.

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