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Kamaka Hepa gets golden opportunity with US basketball team

  • Author: Beth Bragg
  • Updated: June 15, 2018
  • Published June 15, 2018

Kamaka Hepa of Utqiagvik and the U.S. basketball team will play for the gold medal Saturday at the FIBA U18 Americas Championships in St. Catharines, Ontario.

The undefeated Americans will face the winner of a semifinal game between Canada and Puerto Rico.

The United States clinched a spot in the title game by holding off Argentina in Friday's semifinal game, 104-92 — its closest game of the tournament. In a Thursday quarterfinal game, the Americans walloped Ecuador 132-55.

In the game against Ecuador, Hepa scored eight points and added six rebounds, one block and one assists in 17 minutes of play. He played less than five minutes against Argentina, finishing with two points and two rebounds.

Hepa, a recent Barrow High graduate, is one of 12 players on the U.S. team. The tournament, for players 18 and younger, marks his first experience as a member of a Team USA squad.

"It's an honor for me and my family to be able to represent the USA in this tournament," Hepa said in a FIBA press release. "I'm also representing Alaska, because my community has supported me throughout this process, so I'm proudly representing my community, Alaska and the USA. That is something I'm very thankful for."

Hepa will be a freshman next school year at the University of Texas, where he will play for the Longhorns.

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