It’s ranked number one in the Pacific for the 3x3 game and CISNOC secretary general Owen Lewis says the team is going to leverage the 5x5 tournament to build future depth for their already-champion 3x3 team.
“We weren’t looking at this 5x5 tournament, the full game, our focus is on 3x3 back in Samoa for the Pacific Games in July next year.”
He says they’ve got four in the team, but if one of them is injured, there is no backup.
Players Adoniah and Keziah Lewis, along with Janet Main and Terai Sadler became the highest-ranking Pacific 3x3 team by winning the Oceania qualifiers on the Gold Coast in 2015.
“This surprised everyone. They drew with New Zealand and lost to Australia only by one point.”
This then qualified the team to the 2016 Worlds held in China, where they also drew in an early pool match with overall tournament winner Czechoslovakia. The Cook Islands came 15th overall in that tournament, closely matching it with the likes of hosts China.
“I don’t think we have the height or depth to make a big impact on the full game, but for 3x3, as a small nation we can,” said Lewis
“These girls have all been through the US college system and are very competitive. Two of them have turned down places in the New Zealand team to play for the Cook Islands.”
He adds the team has been selected based on those who turned up to the Rarotonga trial in August, those who have been playing overseas in a competitive league, and players who have been a part of the successful 3x3 campaign.
Coaching the team will be Ollie Bryce with technical assistance from Aik Ho. The girls have been selling cash jackpot tickets to fundraise for their trip to Samoa.
The women’s basketball team representing the Cook Islands is:
Richelle Gempton - (Rarotonga / Tonga) - Richelle is no stranger to Cook Islands Sport. She has played for the Cook Islands Black Pearls and is set to make her debut for the Cook Islands National women's basketball team.
Kayla Kiriau (Atiu / Mangaia) - Kayla is playing in the Queensland Basketball League and has been developed through the New Zealand programme. Previously she has played basketball in the US Collegiate system.
Ngatamaine Mareko (Rakahanga / Manihiki) - Maine is well travelled and has played in basketball in New Zealand and England. Currently based in Dunedin, she was born and bred in Manihiki.
Jordina Katu (Rarotonga / Aitutaki) - Jordina is based in Melbourne and playing basketball the Craigieburn Eagles. She has played in the US and the Big V in Australia.
Dalen Pilitati (Rarotonga) – Now playing in the Queensland Basketball League, Dalen has previously played in the US and Australia.
Terai Sadler (Mauke / Aitutaki) - Terai plays for the Canterbury Wildcats in the New Zealand WNBL. She has previously played for the University of Central Arkansas in the US and the Mildura Heat in the Big V, Australia. She is a member of the Gold Medal Winning Cook Islands Women’s 3x3 Team.
Adoniah Lewis (Manihiki / Rarotonga) - Adoniah plays for the Newcastle Eagles in the English WBBL. Previously she played in Italy, the US and the Big V in Melbourne, Australia. She is a member of the Gold Medal Winning Cook Islands Women’s 3x3 Team.
Keziah Lewis (Manihiki / Rarotonga) - Keziah plays for the Newcastle Eagles in the English WBBL. Previously she played in Italy and Kent State University in the US. She is a member of the Gold Medal Winning Cook Islands Women’s 3x3 Team.
Janet Main (Rarotonga / Aitutaki) - Janet is based in Melbourne, Australia. She has previously played for the Otago Nuggets in the New Zealand WBBL. She is a member of the gold medal-winning Cook Islands women’s 3x3 team.
Jasmine Davis (Rarotonga) - Jasmine plays basketball in Wellington, New Zealand. Previously she has played for the University of Wyoming in the US. She was an inaugural member of the Cook Islands Women’s 3x3 Squad that competed in the Oceania World Cup qualifiers in the Gold Coast, Australia before injury curtailed her international career.