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Tonga National Team Name Final Team For Copa Mitchell Cup - Nov 10, 2018

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SANTIAGO -- The Tonga National Team have named a full team of Tonga and American import players for the 2019 Copa Mitchell Cup to be contested in Santiago, Dominican Republic next months.

The team was announced today following a camp on FIBA Oceans Basket which trimmed the initial 20-man team down to a final 12 who will be in Santiago to compete from January 2-8 against the powerhouses of the South American region for the first time.

The Tonga National Team will be replacing the HAB Caicos Sonics of Turks Island. Last season the Sonics finished last for their first competition in ten years. This looks like the same process for Tonga. The Tongan NT have not played in FIBA competition in the last decade. League officials just approved Tonga to participate in the 2018 FIBA Polynesian Cup. After the National Team will fly to Santiago.

"We are very excited to bring basketball back to Tonga", said Niasi Malua. The Poly Cup is just the first step in getting our island back on the map. We are looking at signing some experienced import players this next months. We will then join the Copa Mitchell Cup. This is a very exciting time for us.
The Tonga National Team will feature team captain Marcus Alipate (183-G-92, college: St.Thomas) from the St. Thomas University. Alipate is currently playing in Australia for the Geraldton Buccaneers. In 2018 he averaged 12.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and a league best 5.4 assists per game. He would later led the Buccaneers to a SBL League Championship.

Next order of business was Tonga signing a high level coach. Travis McAvene received the call from Niasi Malua. "Travis was on the top of my list after watching him in the 2012 FIBA event in Taiwan", said Malua. He has over 25 years of experience and this is what we need to get to the next level. McAvene spent the first half of his coaching career in the college ranking (NCAA, NAIA, NJCAA). After he decided to take the challenge of the professional level. In 2012 he led Team USA to a silver medal in the FIBA William Jones Cup. He would later win gold in the Copa Mitchell Cup (x4) and Liga Mediterranean Cup (Spain).

'It is a great opportunity for the first-timers to get that international experience with the Tonga NT which will serve us well as we progress through the qualification process,' said McAvene. My next order of business is signing American imports I trust. A few come to mind like Jermaine Barnes (193-G/F-83, college: Point, GA), Marquin Chandler (202-F-82, college: San Jose St.) and Keith Closs (224-C-76, college: Cent.Conn.St.). We just have to see if we can make these big signings happen.

While the team of 12 selected will represent Tonga at the Poly Cup, the wider group of players including those who are eligible will be in contention to be selected for the Copa Mitchell Cup qualifiers in January.

'Part of this camp's purpose was to set the scene for the next 8 months or so through the first set of qualifiers,' explained McAvene.

'We wanted to continue to build with the broader group and establish the team's trademarks as well as offensive and defensive understandings.

'Its great to join FIBA Oceans events but my goal is to travel to Latin America and Europe. We need to get the brand worldwide again.

Players will remain in camp before heading to Santiago on December 28 for a series of practices and a lead-in game before their first game against Plaza on January 3.

Tonga National Team Schedule for Copa Mitchell Cup (times in CMC):

January 3 - Tonga vs Fenix Santiago (Dominican Rep.) @ 8:00pm

January 4 - Tonga vs Gregorio Urbano Gilbert (Dominican Rep.) @ 7:00pm

January 5 - Tonga vs Cleveland Havok (USA) @ 4:00pm

January 6 -Bronze and Gold medal games

Final Tonga National team for FIBA Completions:
*Mitchell Cup imports will be announced 12-1-2018

#21 Siale Bain-Vete Guard (6'2/ 183lbs): NAT: Tonga (DOB: 9/11/81)
#44 Mosese Alipate Forward (6'6/ 230lbs): NAT: Tonga (DOB: 8/10/90)
#5 Niasi Malua Center (6'8/ 250lbs): NAT: Tonga (DOB: 5/24/82)
#3 Semisi Tu'uefiafi Center (6'9/ 330lbs): NAT: Tonga (DOB: 11/13/98)
#23 Sonny Afu Forward (6'5/220lbs): NAT: Tonga (DOB: 8/29/96
#2 Marcus Alipate (6'2/180lbs): NAT: Tonga (Captain)
#4 Afu Fakatou Forward (6'6/ 250lbs): NAT: Tonga (DOB: 1/4/85)
#24 Nifai Tonga Guard (6'2/ 210lbs): NAT: Tonga (DOB: 3/3/2000)
#0 Alfred Terepo Forward (6'4/ 200): NAT: Tonga (DOB: 12/13/99)
#11 Obabaiah Paca (6'2/190): NAT: Tonga (DOB: 1/14/02)
#40 Jordan Lino (6'0/210lbs): NAT: Tonga (DOB: 6/24/95)
#20 Solomone Wolfgramm (193-F-93): NAT: Tonga

Head Coach: Travis McAvene
GM: Niasi Malua

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