Only ranking one spot ahead of PNG, the closeness was evident from the first tip, with the first quarter coming to an end 15-13 in the Cook Islands favour.
The gap stayed at two by the end of the half, with both teams scoring 13 points, giving the Black Pearls the 28-26 advantage.
Coach Dale Wilson must have given a strong halftime speech, as our girls came out firing in the third quarter, looking like they were about to blow their opponents off the court, and went into the fourth quarter with a commanding 43-37 lead.
However, PNG rallied, taking the game right to the wire, but the national side showed their fitness and mental toughness, a good sign this early in the competition, to claim the win.
Yesterday the girls had a bye, and tonight they will face off against the favourite of the qualifiers, Fiji.
Although they went winless at the Commonwealth Games, VP International and Regional executive PJ Hockin warned the team before leaving not to take them lightly.
The other match played was a one-sided affair in Samoa’s favour, 56-41.
Having qualified for every World Cup since 1987, the strong start by Samoa means that the Cook Islands’ goal of finishing in the top two will be no easy feat.
Squad: Ashleigh Iro (Captain), Eri Te Ana Short (Vice Captain), Jasmin Forbes-James, Alexandra Iro, Maria Milani, Luciana Nicholas, Anania Piri, Daimzel Rongokea, Alanna Smith, Rochelle Teiri, Chantelle Princess Tikitau, Marjorie Toru. Coach: Dale Wilson. Manager: Mandy Souchon. Primary Carer: Talia Rout. Analyst: Jess Souchon. Second analyst: Shennay Withers.