Conillus paving his own hoops path

He originates from a long family list of Papua New Guinea basketball greatness, but 16-year old Conillus ‘Coni’Muri is paving his own hoops path.

“I’m a totally different type of player to Apia and Purari,” said the younger Muri relation.

“I play my own style. I’m not as athletic as those guys but I’m probably a bit craftier,” he said jokingly.

“They’re both PNG national team stars and have been reps for many years, so I’ve got a long way to go to catch up to them.

Despite being raised in a basketball-rich environment, the kid from Kaugere in Moresby South never actually played his first real competition game until he was nine years old.

“It was 2010 in the Capital Basketball League and I was playing with people older than me,” Muri recalls.

Coni remembers his earliest basketball influence being his grandfather Moi Muri, a legend of the sport in PNG, who represented the country at multiple South Pacific Games.

“Pops (Moi) wanted to expose our talents to the public and take us out from the streets and the bad things in the community and help us do something positive. Basketball was a way to do that.”

Coni is certainly heading on the right track. As a 15-year old he was selected to the PNG under 18 national team last year, where he travelled to Australia and played in a pair of exhibition games in Cairns.

“Going to Cairns and playing was a great experience. It made me realise how much better I need to get.”

Muri has improved considerably since the December overseas tour, earning more playing minutes with the KSS Southern Flames in the PMBL this current season.

While still only a teenager, he demonstrated the ability to handle things consistently at the men’s level, showcasing an outstanding all-around performance at the recent BFPNG national championships, leading the NCDBL team to a third-place finish and earning himself selection to the PNG senior squad.

“I’m very happy with that achievement and I’m excited to begin training with the elite players,” he said.

Muri acknowledges that there’s lots of hard work ahead of him though.

“It’s going to be a long road for me. Representing my country at the senior level might not happen this year, but it’s something I want to do down the track. My goal is to be in the 2019 Pacific Games team.”

“But at the end of it all through Basketball, I can be a better person and that’s what it’s really all about.”

Author: 
Troy Taule