By ISAAC LIRI (Freelance Journalist)
BASKETBALL runs deep in his blood coming from a family that lives and breathes the game, eventually it was no surprise for the 17-year old taking this path.
Standing at a height of 180cm Cornelius Muri is probably the youngest ever player to make the men’s national team in basketball when he made his debut as a 16-year old in the 2017 Melanesian Cup under Coach Joel Khalu and mentor and grandfather Moi Muri, also a former national rep back in the day.
Recalling his debut till this day, young Muri is proud of being part of the PNG men’s team that created history by winning the inaugural event in front of home fans beating teams like New Caledonia and Fiji.
After a successful year with the KKS Southern Flames in the PNG Men’s Basketball League, the young Muri has made the 20-man train on squad for the Pacific Games in Samoa and the news got him with a little bit of surprise.
“I was surprised when I heard that I am named in the 20-man train on squad for the Pacific Games,” young Muri said.
“Last year I was a shadow player but I made my debut in the national team. This year I think I worked a little extra hard to earn it but I have to maintain my fitness and skill level to make the final team for next year.
“For now I am just keeping myself fit by taking part in community games until the train-on squad starts training.
Obviously making the national team in basketball is not a new thing for the Muri family of Kaugere in Port Moresby, and with the blood in his veins, the Muri legacy in basketball continues to thrive with young Muri coming up the ranks.
A rising star in the game, the basketball fraternity has seen his game improve time after time since he first started playing at the age of 8.
At the age of 9 he played in the Capital Basketball League with the Saints, then with Exodus when he was 14 and now he plays for one of the champion clubs in the country, KKS Southern Flames.
Young Muri’s inspiration would be none other than his grandfather Moi Muri who is the current national coach for the senior women’s basketball team.
“I haven’t seen him play but he has pushed me to be where I am right now and he mentors me,” young Muri said.
The young Muri also combines with elite men’s basketballers Apia and Purari Muri which he will refer to them as uncles.
Apia Muri has quite a lot to say about what he thinks about his nephew;
“Cornelius is young and he still has a long way to go but the way his progressing looks like he will be achieving a lot of greater things in his life,” Apia said.
“He has been getting a lot of help from us but then and I think his future is promising and he is destined to do greater things for basketball in the country.