Fiji and New Caledonia each took home gold in the 2022 FIBA Melanesian Cup.
New Caledonia was crowned winner in the men’s category after defeating Papua New Guinea at Vodafone Arena, Suva.
New Caledonia flew out of the blocks in the gold medal match finishing the first quarter with a 25-point led that they built on over the following three quarters, winning 87-57.
The late exclusion of shooting guard, Steeven Sillant did not disrupt the New Cal unit with Ethaniel Fenuafanote, Luther Puleoto and the ever reliable, Jo Delaunay-Belleville all contributing to a team gold medal performance.
“I am really proud of the team, we worked really hard, and I believe we showed that on the court today,” Delaunay-Belleville said. “In 2017, we lost twice to Papua New Guinea, so it was nice to finally win in the final today.”
Fiji defeated the Solomon Islands, 67-53 to win bronze.
Fijian Captain, Josh Fox was happy with the team’s performance and highlighted the disappointment of not making the gold medal match.
“We are obviously disappointed with the results of the tournament prior to today’s game, but we have a lot of good things on film to look back on,” Fox said. “We are happy with the progress we have made; we have a lot of new and young boys on the team so we will use this as a growing platform to continue learning.”
Meanwhile, after falling short in 2017, Fiji have redemption, defeating Papua New Guinea to win gold in the women’s category at the FIBA Melanesian Cup 2022.
The Fijian Women flew out of the blocks in the gold medal match with a point to prove against the defending FIBA Melanesian Cup Champions, Papua New Guinea (PNG). At half time the Fijians led by 21 points, and they did not look back with the final score 71-38, to win the gold.
With the crowd split between Fiji and PNG supporters, the second half was electric with individual brilliance from Betty Angular supported by the ever consistent, Rosa Kairi and Captain Marcia Muri. However, Fiji held strong with Letava Whippy showing her experience to inspire the likes of Ella Koroi, Mili Koyamainavure and Matila Vocea.
“There are no words, to be able to win this at home in front of our family and friends, it’s just so special,” Whippy said.
New Caledonia defeated Solomon Islands, 54-28 to win bronze.
Enola An Ah Tchung capped off a sensational tournament with 20 points, further cementing her position as top points scorer for the tournament with an average of 17.3.
“I feel quite humble and happy with this victory, I gave my all and you all seen that result on the court,” An Ah Tchung said. “I’m happy to come away with so many points for the tournament, however I did not set out to achieve this, so I’m happy.
Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Fiji and Guam will progress as official qualifiers for the Pacific Games 2023 in Solomon Islands.