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Cook Islands basketball star gives it her best shot

Thursday 27 April 2023 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Basketball, Sports

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Cook Islands basketball star gives it her best shot
Sharne Pupuke-Robati 3x3 NZ Tall Ferns Basketball player in action. SUPPLIED /23042032

At a young age, Sharne Pupuke-Robati began her training for basketball. She did not know that one day she would wake up to being part of the 3X3 New Zealand Tall Ferns team. Now, at the age of 22, Pupuke-Robati looks back to when she started training for the sport.

For her, her first passion and sporting background was netball.

The first time she played basketball she cried at her first training.

Reflecting on this, she says: “It was a scary experience because I was out of my comfort zone and shy of meeting new people, but I kept going back and eventually enjoyed it and stuck with it.”

Inspired by both her parents who played during their high school years, Pupuke-Robati started playing basketball at the Mangere Recreation Centre in South Auckland at the age of 11.

She is the eldest of four (one brother), where her second sibling, her sister follows in her footsteps.

She was born and raised in Auckland and says she has always acknowledged her roots on her father’s Cook Islands side.


Family picture at the school festival earlier this month with her brother Maarona Vavia from Apii Nikao.SUPPLIED / 23042036

“And any chance I get I am happy to return (to Cook Islands) for a time out when I have the opportunity,” she says.

Pupuke-Robati comes from a great line of politicians and sports representatives.

She is the great grand-daughter of the late and former Cook Islands Prime Minister Sir Pupuke-Robati. (father’s side)

She is also the niece of NBA Memphis Grizzlies basketball player Steven Adams and New Zealand shot-put great Dame Valerie Adams. (Her mother’s siblings).

But for her, she has always carried the advice of her late grandfather Ngatokorua Pupuke-Robati, who would always say “Let your actions do the talking and don’t brag about yourself let others praise you”.

Meanwhile, the Tall Ferns player and teacher aide at Jean Batten School in Mangere, Auckland recently competed in the FIBA (The International Basketball Federation) Asia Cup Tour in Singapore where her team were placed as silver medallists and she was named among the top three players of the tournament.

“I was so overwhelmed that I was named in the tournament team Asia Cup. It was so loud in the stadium that I didn’t realise why I was being called to go to court along with two Australian participants during prize giving.

“It was only until I received my trophy and saw the tournament team on it. I was in complete shock and so happy with tears of joy and my teammates were cheering me on,” she said.

The superstar basketball player has advised youths who want to pursue a career in basketball to- ‘take every opportunity you have to train hard and stay focused. Put in the hard work and get it done…and have fun with sport!’


Sharne Pupuke-Robati competed in the recent FIBA Asia Cup Tour in Singapore which ended on 2nd April 23 with her team placing as silver medalist and she was named the top three players of the tournament. SUPPLIED / 23042037

Background:

Sharne Pupuke-Robati:

  • Went to Mount Albert Grammar, then got a scholarship and attended Utah State University, USA.
  • Is a 3x3 NZ Tall Ferns basketball player, height: 184cm Power Forward.
  • Is the great grand-daughter of the late former Cook Islands Prime Minister Sir Pupuke-Robati. And grand-niece of the leader of opposition Tina Pupuke Browne.
  • Is also the niece of NBA Memphis Grizzlies basketball player Steven Adams and NZ shot-put great Dame Valerie Adams.
  • Competed in the recent FIBA (The International Basketball Federation) Asia Cup Tour in Singapore which ended on April 2 with her team placing as silver medalist and she was named the top three players of the tournament.
  • Makes regular visits to Rarotonga to wind down from the basketball world and to spend time with her younger brothers and family who live locally in Avatiu.
  • Also participated in the last Cook Islands Games 2022 and represented her island of Rakahanga - Gold medal placing and also placed silver in shot put. She was also an official referee for the 3x3 basketball Cook Islands games.