Hawai'i's April Atuaia and Jade Abele make up a not-so odd couple
By Leila Wai
Special to the Advertiser
For junior April Atuaia and sophomore Jade Abele, it is a friendship bonded over Oreo cookies and the Gilmore Girls.
The duo, both wing players, share playing time and an apartment in Varsity Circle, "in the ghetto," according to Atuaia, living above senior Natasja Allen and former Rainbow Karena Greeny; and across from senior Christen Roper and sophomore Milia Macfarlane in the same complex.
They also share praises from coach Vince Goo.
"They are two of the most unselfish players in our program's history," Goo said. "They get a bigger thrill from making a nice pass for an assist than scoring. They are genuine about being team players; their number one priority is team success."
Atuaia was chosen as team captain this year, along with Roper and senior Michelle Gabriel.
Atuaia and Abele are looking to lead the 2-0 Rainbow Wahine against Gonzaga tonight in the Hawaiian Airlines Rainbow Wahine Classic.
The tournament features defending national champion and No. 4 Connecticut, No. 12 North Carolina, No. 22 Oklahoma, Denver, DePaul, Fordham and Gonzaga.
Atuaia said that although people seem to think that the major opponent is Connecticut, she wants to play Oklahoma, the runner-up to Connecticut in the championship last year.
"Seeing them last year, and how they play, how they run their offense," Atuaia said are reasons why she wants to play Oklahoma.
Off the court, Atuaia and Abele have similar interests: mainly eating.
"They share a lot of things in common," Goo said. "They tend to keep an eye on each other's caloric intake."
They eat "anything and everything," Atuaia said, and prefer to spend their down time watching WB shows, such as the Gilmore Girls and Dawson's Creek. But that may be a one-sided decision.
"Jade watches a lot of junk shows and we only have one TV," Atuaia said.
"I've converted her," Abele argued. "Now she's as much of a TV buff as I am."
Where: At Stan Sheriff Center Today's Games: North Carolina vs. DePaul, 12:30 p.m.; Oklahoma vs. Fordham, 2:40 p.m.; Hawai'i vs. Gonzaga, 4:50 p.m.; Connecticut vs. Denver, 7 p.m. On the air: Radio: Live, 1420-AM; TV: 7 p.m., delayed, K5. Tickets: $8 for adults, $7 for senior citizens and $5 for UH students and children under 18. Tickets can be purchased at Stan Sheriff Center box office, or by calling TicketPlus at 526-4400.
HAWAIIAN AIRLINES RAINBOW WAHINE CLASSIC
Where: At Stan Sheriff Center
Today's Games: North Carolina vs. DePaul, 12:30 p.m.; Oklahoma vs. Fordham, 2:40 p.m.; Hawai'i vs. Gonzaga, 4:50 p.m.; Connecticut vs. Denver, 7 p.m.
On the air: Radio: Live, 1420-AM; TV: 7 p.m., delayed, K5.
Tickets: $8 for adults, $7 for senior citizens and $5 for UH students and children under 18. Tickets can be purchased at Stan Sheriff Center box office, or by calling TicketPlus at 526-4400.
"They both have a lot of drive and determination," Goo said.
Abele covered 2001 Pacific-10 scoring champion Michelle Greco of UCLA in the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort Classic last weekend. She held Greco to 7-of-22 shooting and 20 points many of which came from the perimeter.
This season Abele is averaging 12.5 points per game and Atuaia 10.5, and both were named to the Classic all-tournament team, along with Allen and MVP Roper.
The two players, who "are very fierce competitors on the court," according to Goo, didn't get off to a good start.
"At first I kind of didn't like her," Atuaia said. "Maybe because she talked too much, and she's kind of blunt. We started hanging out and then I got used to her jokes."
Abele said likewise.
"I didn't like her either," Abele said. "Now she says that she was quiet. I think that she was ignoring me, but I thought she was a bit of a snob. She has no social skills.
"She just fades away in the background. I guess that is good, because I like the center stage."
Abele, who has a reputation as a jokester, said that the gibes, cutdowns and barb trading are almost constant at their apartment.
"We really give it to each other," she said. "But I take about 10 minutes to get a good comeback. Then she says something back and I have to think about it again."
They insist that being roommates and teammates isn't as bad as it may seem, and that it helps after games to discuss what happened on the court.
"We thought it would be, because we would be playing basketball together and would be seeing each other every second," Atuaia said. "But it is good to have someone to talk to about what goes on."
Abele has a different take on it: "It's actually not that difficult, because we were friends anyways. I just hate it when she makes me clean the house. She would never get sick of me, it's just me getting sick of her," she said.
Abele made the transition from the post to the wing this year, a position that she feels more comfortable in.
"I'm liking it a lot better, it suits my game better," Abele said. "I really had to work on my fitness this summer."
"Now that she's a wing, she does a lot more for the team, especially with her height," Atuaia said.
"But I'm a better player than she is. I'm faster."
"Have you asked her what her mile time is? She's just jealous," Abele said. "I'm prettier and faster," she said with a laugh.