Laura Community Gym was packed Monday night for a women’s basketball showdown between Majuro and newcomers Kwajalein. From honking, to throwing chocolate every time Kwajalein scored, to splashing around water proved how excited the crowd was to see the two teams going up against each other. The crowd was not disappointed as these two teams battled point for point the entire game before Majuro managed to hold on at the end to win, 55-52.
In just their first two games ever in the Ralik Ratak National Champion, the Kwajalein women, coached by Faiga Tagoilelagi, have already put their stamp on the tournament.
In their first game last week Wednesday, the Kwajalein team knocked off defending champion Lae, winning 47-37. In their second game Monday night this week, they came within a shot of pushing the game into overtime against last year’s second place team. Then Tuesday, they knocked off Team Mejit 52-32, ending regular play with a 2-1 record heading into the playoffs later this week.
It was obvious the crowd was with the teams emotionally at Monday’s games. They were on edge every time the score tied, and when one of the teams broke the tie to lead by a point or two, they screamed in excitement.
Majuro basketball star Hiroko Obeketang and Kwajalein’s talented Tallynn Heather Almen showed their skills in a face-off that was the highlight of the game. Both top players did not make it easy for the other to score.
“In short: Monday’s match was a showdown between Hiroko Obeketang and Tallyn Almen,” is the way the matchup was described by one fan.
Tallynn was the top scorer for team Kwajalein, scoring 19 points. She was followed by Tanir Lana Kabua with 14, and Andrea deBrum with eight. Majuro top three scorers were: Paulini Maitokana, 17, Benia Hanerg, 16, and Hiroko, eight points.
“It was one of the toughest game I encountered,” said Hiroko after the game.
The playoff round for this year’s tournament is scheduled to be held on Thursday and Friday this week.
Scores from tournament games. Women’s games are noted, all others are men.
Wednesday 7/21: Kwajalein-Ujae 75-58, women Kwajalein-Lae 47-37, Lae-Arno 77-63.
Thursday 7/22: Women Majuro-Mejit 111-20, Rongelap-Namu 113-58, Majuro-Mejit 77-64.
Friday 7/23: Arno-Ebon 68-55, Lib-Ujae 74-72, Rongelap-Wotho 77-72.
Saturday 7/24: Maloelap-Mejit 78-68, Arno-Namu 66-39, Lae-Mejit 50-32, Majuro-Ujae 90-65, Lae-Ebon 89-67, Kwajalein-Lib 74-60.
Monday 7/26: Majuro-Maloelap 91-71, Wotho-Namu 80-70, Kwajalein-Mejit 92-63, women Majuro-Kwajalein 55-52.
Tuesday 7/27: 27 Wotho-Arno 68-62, women Kwajalein-Mejit 52-32, Lae-Rongelap 70- 58, Ujae-Maloelap 20-0.