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Basketball on the rise after successful U15 campaign

The president of the Samoa Basketball Federation (S.B.F.) thinks dual bronze medals at the FIBA Oceania U15 Championships are a sign of a bright future for basketball in Samoa.

Both the men’s and women’s teams finished a clear 3rd at the tournament in Port Moresby last week, bettered only by Australia and New Zealand.

S.B.F. president Tala Pauga said the women met expectations, having missed out on the final by only two points.

“We came in hoping to close the gap to Australia and New Zealand.”

He said the men exceeded expectations.

“Not only we came third, but we thrashed the other islands and pushed Australia right to the limit.”

Tyler Paraha and Moses Bartley were named to the All-Star Five teams on the women’s and men’s sides respectively.

Just two of the twelve players in the women’s team are based locally, and two athletes pulling out meant the men’s team all came from overseas.

“We do a lot of development because we have to work on our local talent base,” Pauga said.

“But if you look at (the full national teams in) the Poly Cup, there were only local players.”

He said the competition was also important for building knowledge around the game.

“One of the requirements was we had to take two referees, one for each team we sent.

“They come back to the island having developed.

“It was a struggle to finance that but we managed.”

Pauga said it’s very important to get to international competitions.

“Even if you have a lot of local tournaments, you can’t see your progress and true status without playing the outside world.

“It’s very expensive but we have to do it, plus it’s the best way to get exposure and maybe attract sponsors.”

Samoa will get another taste of overseas competition at next year’s Pacific Games basketball tournaments in July.

China have offered an opportunity to have training camps over there for three or four months in preparation for the Games.

“I can imagine our players will just be training three times a day, it’s gonna be a huge benefit to those athletes,” said Pauga.

“To play against teams in China as well, the level is strong over there.”

The offer is for 25 players and management across the men’s and women’s national teams to have the camp in China free of charge.

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