Black Pearls finish second

Monday March 25, 2019 Written by Published in Netball

The Cook Islands netball side collected a silver medal at the Pacific Nations Cup in New Zealand over the weekend.

 

The national side lost to Aotearoa Maori 31-33 in a closely contested final.

The Black Pearls made it through to the showdown after beating Tonga in the semi-final.

The tournament also featured Samoa, the New Zealand Defence Force, and the Stars of the Southern Cross – featuring our five scholarship recipients of Anania Piri, Daimzel Rongokea, Simone Nicholas, Marei Nicholas, and Tia Henderson.

New national coach Anna Andrews-Tasola used the three-day event to expose the players earmarked for international duties.

“There are a few players who are away in Singapore at the moment, who are regular squad members, so it's given the new talent an opportunity to be exposed to a higher level,” Andrews-Tasola told Radio New Zealand in lead up to the PNC.

“So there's a really good mix of experienced players and also new players to come on board so I'm looking forward to seeing them out in action.

“I think for all the teams it's going to give them really great competition. I think it's going to be extremely competitive - there's going to be a lot of flair and a lot of natural talent, of which the Pacific Islands and also New Zealand bring, so I'm looking forward to seeing some really great games on the weekend.”

Meanwhile Andrews-Tasola, who is the assistant coach for the Netball Central Beko League team, believes the national team have what it takes to become a World Cup regular once again.

The former Black Pearls shooter said she wanted to give back to the sport in the Cook Islands and was excited to build on some strong foundations.

“In 2017 they were ranked 22nd and because of the work that they've been doing the last couple of years they've lifted their ranking to 17th in the world," she said.

"We have been higher going back and we've had a proud history of Cook Islands netball so it's just around working with Netball Cook Islands and the talent to get us up higher in those rankings."

Andrews-Tasola, who represented the Cook Islands at the 2007 Netball World Cup, where the Black Pearls finished in seventh place, said the team was capable of ending a 16 years year absence in 2023.

"We're starting again on a four year cycle and preparing to prepare ourselves to get to World Cup so it's just around developing our players, identifying talent and working together to get ourselves there."

                -Rashneel Kumar/RNZ

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