Samoa National Basketball team to compete in Asia Cup.
Two teams from Samoa are taking part in the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup 2019 in Changsha, Hunan province, China.
The teams, one women and one men’s, will participate in the qualifying draw. There are eight players comprising four males and four females. Six members of the team were already in China for training, and two just left Samoa last Wednesday.
The tournament is an open invitation from China for it’s the Annual Asia Cup.
Head Coach for Samoa National Basketball team Su'a Stephen Shuster said the last two will be camping first with the rest of the team beforehand.
Su'a, who is also the Director of Coaching Staff, said the tournament is part of their preparations for the Pacific Games in July.
"It’s been recently embedded in the Pacific Games and the list of sports so part of that, we needed to prepare for Pacific Games seeing that Fiji, Tonga and other teams in the region, they have some pretty good players.
"So now they’ve gone on part of the preparation. They are going to play in the Asia Cup as one of the big steps," he told the Samoa Observer.
Samoa's 3x3 National Basketball team are gold medalists from the 2017 Pacific Mini Games in Vanuatu.
"We are right now the gold medal winners for the Pacific three on three from the Pacific Mini Games in 2017 in Vanuatu.
"Three of those players are going again on this team.
"They were selected from a pool of player of course under the coach’s management endorsed by the President of the association, Pauga Talalelei," said Su'a.
He said Samoa's national team are known as the only team fully made up of local players but still faces challenges with attracting and developing new talent in Samoa.
"Samoa is the only team who filled in a full local team in the Pacific Games and we’re only seen to fill a full local team in the Polynesian basketball Cup last year.
"See the hope is that we can continue that stretch, however it’s been deemed a bit difficult because players either move out to further education or they leave for New Zealand so, developing younger talent is another challenge," he revealed.
"Thankful for what’s going on in china, that’s where we’re pushing younger talents but we need to promote basketball. It’s not just a part time sport where you can just go and have fun but it’s a legitimate avenue where players can find a challenge and build their way up to become professional."
Women's team includes Aufui Sa'u, Fuifui Su'a, Utumalie Vaimaugaa and Catolette Autufuga.
Men's team includes Theodore McFarland, Ezra Pama Tufuga, Ryan Paia and Ratu Levy.