Apunipima Australian Indigenous Basketball All Stars Finish Eleventh at World Challenge
The Apunipima Australian Indigenous Basketball All Stars have concluded the 2017 World Indigenous Basketball Challenge (WIBC) in 11th place, after posting one win and two losses in the sixteen-team international tournament held in Vancouver, Canada.
The team promoted Apunipima's Tackling Indigenous Smoking and Drink More Water Youfla campaigns prior to, and during the tournament.
Despite an intense fourth quarter comeback, the All Stars came up short against Team Vancouver in their opening match, going down 69 - 72. Deba George scored 27 points, while his backcourt partner Curt Ahwang contributed 11 points.
The loss relegated the team to the bottom half of the competition bracket, with the highest position the squad could finish tournament in being ninth.
The All Stars claimed victory in their second encounter, defeating Team Bantu from Zambia 90 - 77. George again filled the scoresheet tallying 32 points, while Ahwang continued his hot from behind the arc, connecting on five long-range triples on his way to a 17 point haul.
In their third meeting, the All Stars battled against USA side ITA Native Sports, but eventually went down 68 - 79. 18 year old young gun Jakobe Hunter displayed a solid all-around performance, finishing with 13 points and 4 rebounds in the loss.
All Stars Head Coach Joel Khalu said the team had learned much in their first ever trip to the WIBC.
‘We didn’t really know what to expect having never attended this event, but now that it’s all done, I think we can be a legitimate championship contender in the future,’ Khalu said.
‘Losing the opening game against Vancouver really hurt. That instantly put us in the bottom bracket and took a lot out of the guys both emotionally and physically.’
‘To the players’ credit, they were able to bounce back collect a good win the next morning against Zambia, but we didn’t shoot the ball well against ITA Native Sports on Friday and after suffering that second loss to them, that ended our tournament.’
‘It’s definitely disappointing, as I think we could have been a top four side and that will certainly be the aim the next time we attend this same event in a few years’ time.’
The All Stars will now shift their focus to defending their title as Trans - Tasman champions when they face-off against the New Zealand Maori Men’s National Team in a three-game series to be held in Cairns scheduled for December.
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