Leaupepe Malama awesome Pacific Games campaign
Samoan basketball player, Geraldynn "Malama" Leaupepe, was definitely the one to watch during Samoa's XVI 2019 Pacific Games 5x5 campaign.
The 23-year-old Leaupepe from Vaivase represented Samoa for the first time and led her team in every category in each one of the matches.
In their last game against Guam, the point guard scored 50 points, pulled down 21 rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocked shots despite Guam deploying every defender against her.
The defender remained humbled about her effort, which ensured Samoa came out with a bronze in the end.
"It doesn’t even feel like I did, I’m just willing to do whatever it takes for my team and to be successful for my team," she said.
Leaupepe said she enjoyed playing for Samoa as underdogs and turning heads as the competition progressed.
"I know basketball isn’t so popular in Samoa but that’s what us as a team wanted to do, we wanted to make a name for ourselves and we weren’t even mentioned before the tournament, so we love turning heads and being the underdogs and stepping up to the challenge.
"I’m just really proud of our team and our efforts that we’ve put in the past couple of weeks, and the short time we’ve been given but we made the most of it and used every moment that we’ve had with one another," she said.
Leaupepe commended her younger teammates for their growth throughout the tournament, and credited the staff and their supporters.
"I’m so proud of the youth in our team, I know they’re so young but they were willing to want to learn and willing to listen and looking for ways to improve and it showed throughout the tournament.
"I feel like we improved every game, no matter the outcome. But all the credit also goes to the coaching staff and the management and our fans so I’m lost for words right now but I’m enjoying it," she said.
The star player, whose work ethic on the basketball court has viral on social media and is called "the magician" is one of Alekana and Fatima Leaupepe's twin daughters. She is based in California in the United States.
Malama's Twin Geralynn "Malaea" Leaupepe currently plays for Sanbury Jets in Australia.
"She plays in Australia, and she’s having a great career herself. Her team is on the rise to finishing top in their league.
"She would love to be here but she had to make a sacrifice so we hope to be here next game together," she said.
For the past nine months, Malama has been playing in Denmark but is now set to move to play in Spain this September.
"I’m kind of just using that moment to coming into Samoa to do what I can."
Leaupepe hopes to represent Samoa in the next Pacific Games.
"I don’t want to jinx anything but I’m just taking it one step at a time. Week here in Samoa and spend time with family and then get back home, rest up and then start training again," she said.