Tahiti Ready to Make Waves at FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup

21 Mar 2024

PAPEETE (Tahiti) - This year’s FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup gets another Pacific hit as Tahiti sets foot on the Singapore court once again.  One of four National Federations from Oceania joining the fray, Tahiti's talented 3x3 squad is ready to make a splash.

Leading the charge is rising star Maui Roopinia, whose eyes are set not only on victory, but also on inspiring the next generation of Tahitian ballers.

A Basketball Journey Takes Flight

Roopinia's love for basketball started early, picking up the sport at the age of nine.  He honed his skills playing for Aorai in Tahiti until his freshman year of high school, before his first taste of international competition at the 2017 FIBA Under 17 Oceania Championships in Guam.

Starting his sophomore year at a basketball academy in France, he was eventually recruited to play for Juan Diego High School in Utah.  Roopinia's talent earned him a spot on the Varsity team throughout his high school career,  returning to represent Tahiti at the 2019 U17 Oceania Championships in New Caledonia during his junior year.

Roopinia in action at the 2019 U17 Oceania Championships

National team aspirations continued in 2019 at the Pacific Games, but commitments in the US forced him to miss the opportunity.  Graduation in 2021 led him to Juco for a year, but eventually, the call of home proved too strong.  Roopinia returned to Tahiti in 2022 and rejoined Arue Elite Basketball before circling back to his original team, Aorai Basketball, where they currently boast an undefeated record.

Last year, he suited up once again for his national team, making his Pacific Games debut in both 5x5, and 3x3.

Inspiration on and off the Court

While 5x5 basketball holds a special place in Roopinia's heart, Tahiti's national coach, Georgy Adams, significantly influenced his switch to 3x3. Roopinia emphasises his desire to excel in both formats, showcasing his versatility as a player.

The Fast-Paced Thrill of 3x3

When asked what excites him the most about 3x3, Roopinia says, "the pace."

Roopinia going to work in his Pacific Games debut

 “I love how fast the game is and how there's no time to waste." He elaborates on the intensity that defines both offensive and defensive strategies in 3x3, making every moment crucial.

Lights, Camera, Asia Cup!

Roopinia's anticipation for the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup is palpable.  Representing Tahiti at such a prestigious event is an honour he deeply cherishes.  He dreams of causing an upset and putting Tahiti on the map in the world of 3x3 basketball. Facing established powerhouses like Australia is a thrilling prospect, and the chance to visit Singapore for the first time adds another layer of excitement.  Ultimately, Roopinia is eager for the new experiences and the opportunity to showcase his talents on the international stage.

Shining a Spotlight on Tahiti's Talent

Roopinia highlights Tahiti's "secret weapon," Michael Ruchon, a newcomer with a towering 6'11" presence on the court.  Experienced veterans like Larry Teriitemataua, and Reihiti Summers are also players to watch.

Building a Basketball Legacy in Tahiti

Roopinia acknowledges the growth potential of 3x3 in Tahiti.  He believes that success at the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup can be a game-changer, bringing more recognition and resources to develop the sport within the community.  His vision extends beyond personal achievement; he aspires to inspire future generations of Tahitian basketball players.  Roopinia sees potential sponsorships, improved infrastructure, and a surge in participation as possibilities if Tahiti can make its mark on the international 3x3 scene.