PNG women overcome Solomon in Mel Cup 2022 title defence

Papua New Guinea defeated Solomon Islands 63-51 in their first game of the FIBA Melanesia Cup at the Vodafone Arena in Suva, Fiji today, to begin their title defense on a high, an outcome that moved coach Lewa Hani to tears.

Hani who only took on the role three weeks ago was left with no choice but to pick her best six to fit their traveling budget, which meant they only had a sub on the bench for the duration of the game.

“It is an amazing feat,” Hani said.

“We are thankful to God for the win. We had to select experienced players, and most of these girls played in the last Mel Cup. I just told them to play smart.”

Ahead of tomorrow’s game against New Caledonia, Hani is expecting her full-strength side with the arrival of the five who were left behind. However, she is keeping it low key saying that they will take one game at a time.

“We look forward to the game tomorrow. I will not put any pressure on the girls. The girls that are coming in tonight will be feeling jetlagged. We will just try and focus.”

Against the Solomon Islands, PNG’s experience shone through. They won all four quarters – 17-9, 39-15, 48-34, and 63-51 with captain Marca Muri leading by example as the side’s top scorer with 17 points from seven two-pointers and a three-pointer. For the Solomon Islanders, Joceyln Aunga Basia amassed 21 points in their 51-basket haul.

PNG Women will take to the court again in tomorrow’s opening game against the New Caledonians at 12midday while the Solomon Islanders face the host team Fiji in the final game of the night at 7.30pm.

The 2022 FIBA Melanesian Cup ends on Saturday. The top two teams will also qualify for the 2023 Pacific Games.

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