Tonga men's basketball

Shock visa decision could scupper Tongan basketballer's dream

Auckland athlete Stephen Paea said he feared that if he left New Zealand, Immigration NZ would prevent him from re-entering the country.

The 19-year-old has lived in New Zealand since he was two-years-old and he only found out he was an overstayer last year.

He said his visa applications were declined with no explanation given.

"I found out just as I was in my last year at school and I was beginning to start applying for jobs when I was told by Immigration that I wasn't allowed to work because I didnt have a valid visa.

Tonga's tough task in basketball meet

They start off against New Zealand, before facing Turkmenistan and South Korea.

RNZ Pacific reports key player Marcus Alipate knows from experience that this is a rather different competition from 'traditional' basketball.

"The intrigue [of playing in a competition like this] would be the opportunity to represent the Kingdom of Tonga with these other amazing countries," he said.