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Oceania Championships: New Zealand crushed Fiji - Sep 28, 2007

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The New Zealand Tall Ferns did what was expected and required of them. By defeating the national women's team from Fiji they have assured themselves of a place in the Beijing Women's basketball competition as Oceania qualifiers. The final scoreline was 118 to 31 and that accurately reflects where the two basketball nations are placed on the development pathway and ultimately in the FIBA ranking system. At the same time, Fiji who will now finish the event as bronze medallists have gained three things they did not have before they came to Dunedin.

Firstly they have gained the right to participate in FIBA's pre-Olympic competition in June next year - most likely something they never dreamed possible. Secondly they now will feature on the FIBA radar, gaining some recognition however lowly on the FIBA 213 member ranking system. This is something which will definitely lift them above the other 18 island member federations of the FIBA Oceania zone. But most importantly, the players in the team, who previously saw themselves as `Queens of the Pacific', courtesy of a pair of gold medals at the last two Pacific Island competition meetings, have gained a real and practical understanding of the standard of play needed to take their game to the next level. Australian Opals coach Jan Sterling said in speaking to the media after her team's match against the Fijians, we have to respect the right of Fiji to be at the FIBA Oceania Championships. They earned the right to be here by being the best of the island nations at the recent South Pacific Games. They have said they want to face the challenge of taking their game to the next level and the only way to do this is to play tougher opponents. Fiji Basketball federation must now commence the task of preparing a team which will be competitive at the pre-Olympic tournament.
Meanwhile the Tall Ferns and the Opals have one more battle to fight. Both are now on their way to Beijing, but the question of who can claim the title of Oceania Champions still needs to be settled with the final game of the Championship tomorrow night. The Opals have never surrendered this honour in all their meetings with the Tall Ferns and if the opening encounter on Wednesday was any indication, they are not ready to do so this time round

New Zealand - Fiji: 118-31
Karlene Kingi 20pts 10/10FG 8rbs - Sera Colata 15pts 6/14FG

Fiji Stats:
Sera Colata 15pts 6/14FG 28min
Leilani Saukawa 5pts 2/4FG 13min
Brittany Hazelman 5pts 0/2FG 34min
Seini Dobui 4pts 2/10FG 35min
Kelera Mataika 2pts 1/3FG 31min
Mareta Mani 0pts 0/11FG 37min
Agnes Sokosoko 0pts 0/3FG 28min
Cecilia Oliver 0pts 0/2FG 8min

1- Australia 2-0
2- New Zealand 1-1
3- Fiji 0-2

Gold medal game: Australia - New Zealand


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