Samoa ready to host FIBA Polynesian Cup

By Thomas Airey ,

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SBF president Tala Pauga (with the ball) contributing to women’s national team training.

SBF president Tala Pauga (with the ball) contributing to women’s national team training.

The President of the Samoa Basketball Federation, Tala Pauga, says preparations for next week’s FIBA Polynesian Basketball Cup will benefit the country at the Pacific Games next year and beyond.

Samoa is hosting the inaugural tournament which will be played from Monday 19th to Saturday 24th of November at the NUS Gymnasium.

Samoa Basketball Federation president Tala Pauga said it is a privilege to be chosen as hosts.

“We’ve been doing a lot of work in preparation to host the events,” he said.

“The two main areas of focus have been getting a proper venue, and accommodation for the athletes and officials from overseas.

“It’s been a big challenge, there’s a lot of funding that we need for it.”

The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) have helped with some of the logistics, but as the host nation Samoa have been responsible for getting everything ready.

“In September some FIBA reps came over to train and accredit our referees and table officials,” Pauga said.

Table official Robert Ulutoa and his crew will be responsible for the FIBA LiveStats system which broadcasts all the stats and actions from the game in real-time.

“We are still trying to learn a lot of it, because it’s all a new system to us,” he said.

“We are getting close to perfect though, and looking forward to operating throughout the Polynesian Cup.”

Pauga said this sort of upskilling of local basketball people leaves a good legacy ahead of the Pacific Games.

“Most of our players will be playing again next year as well, so this is a good trial for that too.”

He said the first team from overseas will be arriving tomorrow, with everyone else coming by Sunday.

“Being the host, you also want to win.

“We want to make history by winning the first ever Polynesian Cup.”

The event will be broadcast on TV1 here in Samoa and streamed worldwide on YouTube.

Pauga said the coverage will help sell the sport of basketball here in Samoa.

“We hope our country will be behind our teams here at the tournament.

“Sending it out to the world, it’s a chance for us to show off Samoa as well.”

The first games of the FIBA Polynesia Cup on Monday feature the Samoa men’s national team playing Tahiti at 5pm, and the women’s team taking on the Cook Islands at 7pm.

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