Apia (Samoa) – Tahiti may have fallen short in the 2018 FIBA Polynesia Cup with a Silver Medal but they have accomplished their objective of qualifying to the 2019 Pacific Games.
Armed with an added experience and motivation to finally get it done in an even bigger stage, the Tahitians are one of the contenders in the Women's Basketball event.
Aside from the Cook Islands, out to stand on Tahiti’s way in the quadrennial sports joust in the Pacific are American Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Guam, New Caledonia, and reigning Pacific Games champion Fiji.
Save for tormentor Cook Islands, it’s safe to say that Tahiti had no problem dealing with its Polynesian counterparts like Samoa and American Samoa.
Tahiti opened its group stage campaign on a rousing note, scoring a massive 106-32 win over American Samoa.
Though it bowed to the Cook Islands in a low scoring tiff, 35-53, it bounced back with a 76-53 drubbing of Samoa to set up a titular showdown against the same rival Cooks Islands.
In the end, Tahiti suffered another setback, 58-91, to settle for the Silver Medal but still clinched an all-important ticket to the Pacific Games.
POSSIBLE KEY PLAYERS
Oceane LeFranc, Aeata Tepu, Maea Lextreyt
With an astounding second place finish, Tahiti had two of its players named into the All-Star Five.
Those were LeFranc and Tepu who are tasked to headline the squad anew in no less than the biggest sporting event in the Pacific.
Unarguably Tahiti’s Unarguably Tahiti’s best ace, the 25-year old sensation LeFranc averaged 22.3 points, 12.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists through five games in the Polynesia Cup.
After a series of bridesmaid finishes both in the Polynesia Cup and the last edition of the Pacific Games, Tahiti will surely be shooting for the elusive crown this time.
Helping the squad achieve that mission is the experience it has acquired through a couple of tournaments in the past four years which whipped out Tahiti into a team ready for a title run, at last.
With LeFranc and Tepu at the helm, expect Tahiti to make a strong case for the Pacific Games title even against defending champion Fiji, Polynesia Cup tormentor, the Cook Islands and the rest of the field.
Supporting her in Tahiti’s Silver Medal run was also All-Star Five member Tepu who normed 8.2 markers, 6.8 boards and 3.6 steals per game.
Lextreyt is also capable of providing big numbers anytime for Tahiti especially after having a decent average of 9.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists in the Polynesia Cup.
2015 PACIFIC GAMES PERFORMANCE
Tahiti finished with a Bronze Medal in the 2015 Pacific Games.
After a hot start with wins against Papua New Guinea (90-57), Nauru (113-79) and Guam (67-54), Tahiti faltered late in the group stage with key losses against American Samoa (63-75) and Fiji (48-72).
That string of losses dragged Tahiti in the bronze medal match which it took care of business with a 62-51 win over Papua New Guinea.