Polynesian FIBA Cup 2021 still on: Federation

Samoa Basketball Federation is still keen to host the Polynesian FIBA Cup in September this year despite the uncertainty over the COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Federation President Pauga Talalelei Pauga said that they are still preparing to play host and they are mindful of the games being the qualifying event for the 2023 Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands.

"Polynesia Cup is a qualifying event from the Pacific Game in Solomons for 2023 so like what we had before, our Olympic Cup in 2018, that was the qualifying event for 2019 which was hosted in Samoa,” he told the Samoa Observer. “So we are very fortunate that they want Samoa to host and so we are hosting that event again and they have confirmed five teams including Samoa.”

"We are just planning as if it will go ahead but were hoping that by then borders will be open.

“Well look at the Olympic Games, they are still saying that they go through with it so despite all these things we are counting on the vaccines. 

“So we are still planning and preparing as if it will go ahead but if it doesn't it's not going to cost us anything because we are not traveling.”

After the Polynesian Cup, the top two teams will represent Polynesia in the World Cup and Pauga says that he will make sure that Samoa will have a spot to compete in the World Cup.

"The top two will be selected to represent the Polynesian side, so with only two spots, we are looking at bringing our best team to make sure that we get that spot. 

“That's going to be September, the first week of September we will have our Polynesian Cup. “We have selected a committee to look after the hosting of the event, and this will be the committee looking after team Samoa.”

"The four that have been confirmed are Tonga, American Samoa, Tahiti, and Cook Island. 

“Some Polynesian countries are not active such as Tuvalu and Niue. So they are not bringing any teams but that's the main four. 

“This is the second Poly Cup, the first time was in 2018 and we were also the first to host. 

“I hope we will win both divisions this time.”

And with only two spots that the five teams will be vying four, Pauga says that all the four teams coming over are a threat to the Samoan Basketball team.

However, he says he is certain that his team will earn one of the two spots.

"Well with only two spots, all four are a threat to us plus team American Samoa was the champion in 2019 and Tahiti was the runner-up for the silver medal. 

“I know Cook Island and Tonga will come prepared as well. 

“Last Poly Cup, Cook Island won the women and Tahiti won the men. 

“We could've won the men's division because we didn't have that many girls from overseas but we used our locals. 

“But I think it's the coaching staff that didn't utilize our girls properly. 

“But we already selected the coaches and we're working closely with our coaches in coaching our team.”

The Cook Island are currently the reigning champions of the previous women's division while Tahiti took the men’s. But Pauga stands firm that he will bring his A-team and will win one of the two divisions. 

His team will be a combination of local and overseas players.

"We are having our trials, and our final trials this coming Saturday for both the Poly Cup and U17 FIBA Oceania,” he said. “We will also select our training squad from there and will take that team to our management team to look after. 

“At the same time, we will meet with the people operating the event," he said. "We have selected the tournament director, and now that tournament director is hunting for his team for the positions of sponsorship person, the person who will be dealing with the team's welfare, even the referees and the administrator. 

“So after this week, we will meet again with this committee to present their organizational chart for the management of the games."

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