Koyamainavure Now Looking to the Future
Basketball in Fiji is entering a transition period. With the core of the men’s national team aging, it is time for players like 21-year- old Mataika Koyamainavure to step into the spotlight and take a leading role. Koyamainavure might be one of the youngest members of the Fijian men’s national team but he is ready and willing to take that next step. “There is going to be a real chance for us younger players to step up and take ownership of the national team,” he said. Koyamainavure’s first appearance for the Fijian national team was at the 2015 Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea, where his side made it to the gold medal game but ultimately fell to Guam on a buzzer beater from Tai Wesley. It was an impressive first showing for Koyamainavure with a tournament average of 13.5 points per game. His top performance came against Samoa with 25 points on 9 of 11 shooting to go along with 6 rebounds. Koyamainavure attributes his preparation to his experience of playing collegiate basketball in the United States. “Here I am able to get in 30 plus games against amazing competition where in Fiji I can maybe only get 15 really good games in a year,” said the 2.04m forward, currently studying communications at Missouri Western State University. “Overall my college experience has made me a better person on and off the court.” Koyamainavure averaged 7.7 points on 55 percent shooting and 4.2 rebounds in 19.3 minutes per game last season. However, it hasn’t always been easy for the 21-year-old.
“My first year of college was a big change for me, the style of play is so different and took me time to adjust,” he recalled. This ability to adapt is going to serve Koyamainavure well moving forward with FIBA’s new competition system coming into effect in 2017.
It will give Koyamainavure and Fiji’s senior men’s national team the opportunity to test their ability to compete in home and away games against teams all over Asia and the Pacific. Up-and-coming national team players like Koyamainavure will thrive under the new system, with its calendar providing the platform for young players to emerge through regular official competition. Koyamainavure will have every opportunity to step up and take the reigns of the national team, a challenge he is aware of and up for. “I am nervous but excited about the possibility of stepping up and becoming a leader of our national team,” he said. As well as his desire to step up on the court, Koyamainavure is also very passionate about inspiring the youth of Fiji.
“I really want all of the kids of Fiji to know that if they want something then all they have to do is is fight for it. They just have to keep fighting,” he said.
Mataika Koyamainavure (second row, second from right), with his Team Fiji Basketball teammates during the Pacific Games in PNG last year.