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(C) Paul Ryan Tan/FIBA Asia

2023 FIBA World Cup

Taane Samuel teases Kib, Juan GDL during haka, then makes statement


Taane Samuel felt like he was in a college reunion in his return to the Philippines.

Besides seeing his old captain in La Salle Kib Montalbo, he got to be reunited with foe-on-the-court but friends outside of it in Ateneo great Thirdy Ravena and University of the Philippines standout Juan Gomez de Liano.

Seeing them and living with them in one hotel made the 22-year-old former Green Archer reminisce about his two-year stay here.UAAP-81-DLSU-vs.-ADMU-Samuel-8514 Taane Samuel teases Kib, Juan GDL during haka, then makes statement 2023 FIBA World Cup Basketball News  - philippine sports news

“I enjoyed it because I liked how they play here,” shared Samuel. “It’s so physical and especially in the UAAP, it’s a tough college league to play in, especially for me.

“Even coming from New Zealand, playing against Thirdy again, playing against Juan again, it’s different. It’s good to see how far they’ve come and how much they’ve flourished as basketball players.”

And he had a surprise for Montalbo and Gomez de Liano during the pregame pleasantries.

As customary, the Tall Blacks started the game with a haka — a ceremonial Kiwi dance used to intimidate their opponents. And the 6-foot-7 versatile big had his eyes on his pals.UAAP-Season-81-DLSU-vs-ADMU-Taane-Samuel-x-Kib-Montalbo Taane Samuel teases Kib, Juan GDL during haka, then makes statement 2023 FIBA World Cup Basketball News  - philippine sports news

“Doing the Haka, I told Kib, I told Juan to be ready, I was going to be staring them down the whole Haka because they’ve asked me before.

“I think when I was here for La Salle, they’ve asked me to perform for them and it’s an honor to actually do it finally and show them how we do it,” he quipped.

UAAP-81-DLSU-vs.-UP-Samuel-9840 Taane Samuel teases Kib, Juan GDL during haka, then makes statement 2023 FIBA World Cup Basketball News  - philippine sports newsIt was just the start in what ended up as Samuel’s redemption game.

Samuel was unstoppable during the clash between Gilas and the Tall Blacks, going 5-for-5 from the field with three rebounds and two assists.

#ReadMore  Blazers burn Cardinals' winning streak

His three-pointer with 5:46 left in the third canto proved to be the turning point as it triggered an 11-6 rally that turned a 51-39 to a 17-point cushion that Gilas could not recover from.

In front of a soldout SMART Araneta Coliseum, Samuel was able to show what La Salle missed out on after UAAP Season 81.

2023-FIBA-World-Cup-Qualifiers-Gilas-vs-Tall-Blacks-Taane-Samuel Taane Samuel teases Kib, Juan GDL during haka, then makes statement 2023 FIBA World Cup Basketball News  - philippine sports news

(C) Paul Ryan Tan/FIBA Asia

“I mean it’s huge for me because I didn’t perform to the best of my abilities when I was here. It was big,” Samuel said about delivering the goods for the Tall Blacks at the Big Dome.

“It was kinda like a statement game for me but I just wanna showcase what I can do because people didn’t really have faith in me when I was out here, especially playing for La Salle, one of the biggest schools in the Philippines. This game was big for me and it’s just so exhilarating, coming out and playing here again.”

With reports from Jeremy Chua

All Group A games of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers will stream live on GigaPlay. Download it now on Android or IOS.

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