Day Two in the Basketball competitionhas tipped off at the 2017 Pacific Mini Games in the Korman 2 Stadium and the action quickly gained momentum.
3X3 Basketball has lit up the program in much the same fashion as does the Beach Volleyball. The games are 10 minutes in duration, fast and physical, with no official half break, just timeouts.
The morning began with the Women’s competition getting the crowd warmed up. A match between Fiji and PNG where the Papuans looked in control all the way, ended with a 13-6 scoreline in PNGs favour.
Following that game the appearance of Vanuatu women on the court got the crowd stirring and despite Cooks getting off to a fast start, Vanuatu slowly pulled them back with some crowd-pleasing two-pointers.
The Cook Islands team are a strong, physical team and put a lot of attacking pressure on the home side.
With 3X3 being such a fast version of the game, it is all about possession and with some impressive shooting from the Cooks, the gap on the scoreboard never narrowed with the game ending in a 14-5 win for the visitors.
The Men took to the court next to see out the morning’s play with American Samoa and Fiji in a tight affair, well matched in size.
The game was physical in nature and American Samoa quickly racked up seven fouls which, in 3X3, allows the opposition free-throws for any subsequent fouls on them – a very dangerous position to be in.
Despite this, the final result was a surprise with American Samoa running out the winners by four points with a score of 10-6 over Fiji.
Fiji is considered to be a powerhouse in Pacific Basketball and the expectation was that this form would carry over to the shorter version of the game, but they are being challenged here at the Games.
The game which followed between Nauru and the Northern Marianas match was a close one in the end.
CNMI was on the board early and held the slight advantage all the way through, but Nauru was never out of touch. The Marianas took the match 17-15 at the final siren.
Cook Islands then faced the hometown favorites Vanuatu and the stadium was in full voice.
The Cooks are a big unit but the agility of the Vanuatu men kept them in touch. Early scoring eluded both sides as shots thrown up consistently missed their mark.
The game was eventually tied up at 9-9 when the final siren sounded and the action went into overtime.
In this situation, the first team to score two points gets the win and despite a free throw awarded to the Cooks, only one of the two hit its mark so the game continued.
Vanuatu put up a long shot which dropped in and the crowd leapt to their feet as the referee called time with a final score of 11-10 Vanuatu’s way.
The late morning break in the competition schedule was a welcome one as spectators and players alike looked to recover from the excitement of the first few hours of play.
The action will continue through the afternoon.
By Jill Scanlon