Historic win by Samoa's U-16 women's basketball team in Amman
The Samoa U16 Women's Basketball team created history on Thursday night when they were crowned the winners of the FIBA U16 Women's Asian Championship 2022 Division B in Amman, Jordan.
The national team captained by Azaleeah Oloapu defeated the Syrian team after a very tight contest finishing off with a 79-76 to make them the winner of Division B.
That, basically, is the biggest win by a basketball team from Samoa, on any stage in recent history for basketball, as the first-timers accomplished what no other Samoan national team had done - whether it's the senior men's or women's national teams.
Syria had previously beaten Samoa in the Group Phase in their very first games, however, Samoa emerged victorious during the finale of the Division B on Thursday.
In an interview with FIBA media, the Samoa team leader, Ms. Oloapu who is a Samoan residing in Australia says that she hopes to see the sports grow back in her motherland in the near future.
"I live in Australia, where basketball is very strong over there, so there's a lot of people who support and encourage it. But in Samoa, there's not very many people who play basketball or know how to play basketball," she said.
"[My goal for] Samoa basketball is to become as big as Australia's basketball and to encourage more girls to keep playing basketball."
Oloapu is in her first appearance - with perhaps more to come - with the national team, and she isn't shy to admit that there's pressure being the team captain as her batch tries to usher in a new era of Samoan basketball.
"There's a bit of pressure," she said. "Coming from Samoa, basketball is not very strong, so I think that's a little bit of pressure. But I think it's a good experience for us all in creating the future of basketball in Samoa."
With the way she has been performing, though, you'd think she's not feeling any pressure whatsoever. Oloapu is currently averaging 12.0 points on 52.9 percent shooting, 9.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.8 blocks per game, including a 14-point, 11-rebound outing in their 57-48 win over Indonesia during the Group Phase.
"I think in the last few games, as captain, I've been doing very well in trying to stay positive within the girls and trying to keep my head up so the girls can continue to stay positive," she offered.
The Samoa Basketball Federation President, Pauga Talalelei Pauga could not be reached by this newspaper for a comment on the recent accomplishment by the Samoa's women basketball team.
The FIBA Under-16 Women's Asian Championship is an international U-16 basketball championship in the International Basketball Federation's FIBA Asia zone.
The tournament started in 2009, and is held every two years.
The top four teams qualify towards the FIBA Under-17 Women's Basketball World Cup.
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