PORIRUA, NEW ZEALAND - The Apunipima Australian Indigenous Basketball (AIB) All Stars women’s national team have produced a perfect run to win the International Indigenous and Cultural Basketball Tournament held last week in Porirua, New Zealand.
The All Stars downed the Kingdom of Hawaii 91-90, in a thrilling championship finale, the victory securing the first-ever international gold medal for an Australian Indigenous Basketball women’s representative side.
Prior to defeating the Kingdom of Hawaii by one-point in the double-overtime decider, the All Stars also displayed their dominance in preliminary round matches, taking down Ngati Toa (New Zealand) 82-75, Raukawa Invitational (New Zealand) 80-58, and Hawaii 90-86.
First time women’s All Stars Head Coach Ricky Baldwin was extremely proud of the victory.
“To travel over here to New Zealand, play the way we played and leave with the championship trophy undefeated, I couldn’t be prouder,” Baldwin said.
“We had a very young team coming in and it was exciting for me as a coach to see the girl’s step-up and battle the other countries the way they did.”
“Particularly in the grand final. Hawaii had experienced players that compete professionally in high-level competitions around the world and our girls didn’t take a backward step.”
“My heart got racing there a few times, especially when the game went into the second overtime.”
“To our girls’ credit though, they remained calm, made the big plays when needed and created history,” Baldwin added.
18-year old Jasmin Fejo from Adelaide had a remarkable tournament, leading the team in scoring across the four games, while 17-year old Perth Lynx WNBL development player Nes’eya Williams was outstanding on the glass, delivering two double-double rebounding performances.
The Apunipima AIB Women’s All Stars will now shift their focus to the annual Trans-Tasman series played against New Zealand Maori to be held in Australia this October.