PORIRUA, NEW ZEALAND - The Apunipima Australian Indigenous Basketball (AIB) All Stars men’s national team have finished second at the International Indigenous and Cultural Basketball Tournament held last week in Porirua, New Zealand.
The All Stars brought home silver after going down to Ngati Toa (New Zealand), 84-76, in the championship decider.
Despite the grand final loss, it was still a successful week for the Australian Indigenous men’s representative basketball team. The squad registered victories in the preliminary rounds against the Kingdom of Hawaii (108-94), Tonga (121-58) and Mexico (95-45), before overpowering the Kingdom of Hawaii for a second time, 103-90, in a semi-final rematch.
All Stars Head Coach Joel Khalu said the team had their chances to win gold against New Zealand.
“We had some really good opportunities in the grand final, we just couldn’t capitalise,” Khalu said.
“I thought our defence was terrific throughout, especially holding them to 84-points for the game.”
“We rebounded really well too.”
At the end of the day, we simply missed a lot of shots that the guys normally make.”
“Without that consistent scoreboard pressure against a talented team like Ngati Toa, it was going to be tough.”
All Stars co-captain Chris Cedar had a stellar week, leading the team in scoring, while 21-year old rising star Verle Williams Jnr. from Brisbane was electric on the defensive end.
The Apunipima AIB Men’s All Stars will now shift their focus to retaining the Morseu-Taurima Cup when they match-up against the New Zealand Maori national team in the 6th Annual Trans-Tasman Series to be held in Australia this October.