The team results weren't ideal, but Marcus Alipate had a strong four-game run on the basketball court for Tonga at this month's Pacific Games in Apia, Samoa.
The former St. Thomas standout guard led the eight-team tournament in scoring at 34.4 points per game in a 1-3 team finish. Alipate shot 85 percent at the foul line, sank 11 treys, and also averaged 5.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists while playing 36.4 minutes a game. Tonga finished placed seventh of eight teams.
Alipate was joined on the tournament all-star team by two players from Guam's 4-0 championship team -- Tai Wesley and Darren Hechanova; Ariirimaraue Meuel of tourney runner-up Tahiti; and Joshua Fox of Fiji. Guam and Tahiti took the two team advancement spots in the FIBA Asia Cup qualifying chase for the 2020 Olympic Games.
The 27-year-old Alipate, a team captain, scored 44 points (17-of-18 free throws) in an opening loss to New Caledonia. He also scored 35 points in the closing consolation-round victory over Solomon Islands.
A current pro basketball player in Australia, Allipate is an naturalized citizen of Tonga, the South Pacific island nation where his father was born, and his second cousin 'Aho'eitu Unuaki'otonga Tuku'aho Tupou VI. is the King.
Tonga doesn't have a deep history in international basketball but qualified for the Pacific Games last November at the Polynesian Cup. With only six players in uniform, Tonga survived some early defeats and rallied to claim a bronze medal. Alipate made the all-tournament team for the pre-Olympic Games qualifier. He averaged a tournament-best 39.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game -- including making 14 treys in a record-setting 55-point outing. He helped the Tonga to a bronze-medal win over American Samoa, 79-77, a win that avenged a one-point loss to American Samoa earlier in the tournament.