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Sālote Alexis Vakasiuola (left) and Fiji vs Guam for mens basketball gold (right)

Photo/Jay Vakasiuola (left and backdrop), Pacific News Games Service (right)

Sports

Pacific Games 2023: Tongan teen's golden debut, Fiji basketball breaks 16-year drought

Both a Tonga golfing prodigy and the Fiji basketball team have turned their promising form into Pacific Games victory.

Vaimaila Leatinu'u
Aui'a Vaimaila Leatinu'u
Published
27 November 2023, 2:57pm
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A promising Tongan teen golfer who led from the first round in the women's golf, has ended her Games debut with a gold medal win at the weekend.

Speaking to Pacific Games News Service (PGNS), Sālote Alexis Vakasiuola, who has been golfing since the age of six says she is overjoyed with her first Pacific Games.

"I just want to thank the people of Tonga for all their support. I miss them so much, and I love them," Vakasiuola.

The 16-year-old led the first round with a score of 73 and ended the fourth round with an overall total of 291.

Tagata Pasifika co-host and proud uncle John Pulu took to Facebook to congratulate Vakasiuola.

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New Caledonia's Priscilla Gracia Lormand claimed silver with 301, followed by Kirra St Laurent of Tahiti winning bronze with 306.

Meanwhile New Caledonia won two medals in the men's golf, with 2019 silver medalist Guilaume Castagne taking gold and Hugo Denis claiming bronze.

Silver was claimed by Papua New Guinea's Morgan Joseph Annato.

In both the women's and men's team events New Caledonia won gold, Papua New Guinea claimed silver and Samoa collected bronze.

Fiji men's basketball starts and ends strong

After a strong opening match, Fiji's men's basketball team have lived up to expectations and won their first gold in 16 years.

Fiji had an impressive inaugural match against Tahiti that ended with a wide margin of 70-45. Their final match against Guam was a nail biting finish of 51-47.

Speaking to PGNS, point guard Filimone Junior Waqabaca says the victory means a lot to their families, team and country.

"To come this far is not an easy task, competing against the defending champions Guam," Waqabaca says.

"They're a strong great team, and we had to go out there and do our best to win, and we did."

The last time the team won gold was in the Pacific Games in 2007, in which current coach Laisiasi Puamau and captain Marques Whippy played.

Captain Whippy summed up their victory in one word: "excitement."

"We're thrilled representing Fiji. We look forward to more great success in men's basketball in the future," Whippy says.

The women's gold was claimed by Tahiti who beat the Cook Islands with a close finish of 53-46.

Tahiti captain Herehau Eleonor Teissier says it was not an easy victory.

"I'm very happy to win this medal. There were a lot of tough games but I want to thank everyone behind us for making this possible," Teissier says.

On Friday Fiji lost to the Cook Islands in the semi-final 51-50, leaving them out of the gold match game against Tahiti.

Fiji captain Kayla Mendez says despite a disappointing one-point difference in their semi-final game, the team found their resilience.

"The girls found strength in messages from our families and friends saying 'you've got this,' Mendez says.

"So we recouped and played like it was the last game we were ever going to play."

Tahiti push ahead of Samoa on medal table

Since our last tally which wrapped up day four, two days of games have passed in which Samoa have been effectively pushed out of the top three.

Saturday's day six ended with New Caledonia holding strong on top with a total of 54 gold.

Australia follow in second adding two gold medals on day six for a total of 28.

Tahiti who have occupied the total medal count have now entered the medal tally and pushed Samoa out of third place, with a total of 22 gold.
Samoa however are only behind by one gold medal for a total of 21 so the tally could shift.

Total medals: Scoreboard remains relatively the same

New Caledonia continue their lead with 125 total medals earned, followed by a slight deviation from the tally as Tahiti is second with 86 then Australia at 55.

Other results

Fiji have 42 medals total, Cook Islands has 10 while Tonga hold 10 followed by Kiritbati with seven.

New Zealand ended day four with a total of 22 with seven gold, six silver and nine bronze.

Keep up with us to keep up to date with this year's Pacific Games on our site: pmn.co.nz or through our socials: Instagram, TikTok and X (formerly known as Twitter).

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