In their final match yesterday, the side went down to Tahiti 76-77.
Cook Islands narrowly missed out on advancing to the semi-finals of their competition, going down to current Micronesia Games champions Guam 67-66 in their qualifying final.
The team advanced to the qualifying final after narrowly losing to defending Pacific Games champions Fiji by two points in their opening match and going down to hosts Samoa 67-71 in their second game of the tournament. They managed to claim a strong 89-37 win over New Caledonia, which was enough to see them through to the qualifying finals.
“We tried really hard to get some things done … Guam did a really good job,” says the team’s coach Ollie Bryce.
The game against Guam started off well for the Cook Islanders, who were up by six points at the end of the first quarter. However, Guam fought hard, coming back to even the score at 30-all heading in to the second half.
Missed opportunities really hurt the Cook Islanders, who went only 47.1% from the free-throw line, missing what could have been a game clinching 11 points. They shot 35.7%.
“We had a number of opportunities that we really needed to capitalise on and that’s what we’ll have to work on,” Bryce says.
The second half was a back-and-forth tussle, with the Cook Islanders managing to outscore their opponents 22-16 in the third quarter, to lead by six heading into the final quarter. However, Guam finished the game strongly, scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter, to win the game by just one point.
It was a game filled with drama, with some fifty-fifty calls from the officials going against the Cook Islanders. With the Cook Islanders down by one and just three seconds left on the clock, an official called a technical foul on one of the Cook Islanders, effectively handing the game to Guam.
“Like anything, our referees are really important, a really important part of the game. Whether you like it or not, the calls are made. We have to live with it and move forward,” says Bryce.