The members of the Commonwealth’s men’s and women’s basketball squads left in batches and several of them were scheduled to reach the host state Sunday morning and join the CNMI baseball and swimming teams in the opening ceremony of the Games. The opening rites were set for 5pm (4pm Saipan time) with athletes and officials from the host state, Yap, Kosrae, Chuuk, Guam, Palau, Nauru, and the Marshall Islands participating in the traditional parade of teams. The CNMI delegation is headed by chef de mission and Northern Marianas Sports Association president Michael White and NMASA vice president Kurt Barnes and baseball’s Rose Igitol, who are assistant chef de mission.
Baseball, basketball, athletics, and swimming will have their first day of contest today at the various sports facilities in Pohnpei. At the COM-FSM National Gymnasium, four men’s division matches and three in the women’s are slated in Day 1. The CNMI faces Palau in the men’s division tiff at 2pm, while the Commonwealth’s cagebelles take on the hosts at 6pm.
“We just have to take it one game at a time and stay focus. We have the talent and the desire to win, but these will not produce good results for us if we will not keep our head in the game at hand and move away from the game plan,” said Preston Basa, who co-captains the CNMI Men’s National Team with Micro Games returnee Dan Barcinas.
Completing the 12-man squad are Christian Mizer, Jason Lampkin, Bryle Alegre, Jimmy Tudela, Ezra Caro Leowell Cristobal, Jack Lizama, Marvin Rabauliman, Jawn Joyner, and Fred Litulumar.
Basa and company are hoping to redeem the CNMI men’s team from a dismal performance in the last Micro Games in Palau where the squad finished sixth in the ranking.
“We will do our best to make it to the medal podium this time,” Basa said.
The Commonwealth’s women’s team is aiming a return trip to the finals.
“We’ve been going into the finals in the last four Micro Games, won in 2006, so hopefully we will get the gold medal back this year,” said Connie Camacho, the co-captain of the squad. Teresita Sablan is the other captain of the team.
“I believe we have a strong chance to make it to the finals again and even win the gold medal because we have a deeper bench compared to the last team we had in Palau. They can provide the starters quality minutes,” Camacho added.
Joining Camacho and Sablan on the squad are Lia Rangamar, Irish Pagarao, Ira Palero, Lilly Williams, Jamie Mendoza, Rachel Abrams, Madeleine Alegre, Marie Javier, Antonette Labausa, and Michelle Kautz. Elias Rangamar coaches both teams with Heartim Williams assisting him on the men’s squad and Basa on the women’s side.
Elias Rangamar is also one of the coaches of the CNMI athletics team and his track stars will join 18 events in today’s opening of the athletics competition at the PNI Track and Field Facility.
Zarinae Mae Sapong and Friendly Joy Pena will have the most events in Day 1, as they both race in the 200m and 400m runs and enter the long jump contest. Rachel Abrams is the CNMI’s third bet in the 200m run and the lone one in the 100m hurdles. Michael Mancao and Beo Ngirchongor are both racing in the 400m and the latter will add the 200m to his list of events. Tony Ichiou is the CNMI’s other entry to the 200m run, while Jessie James will participate in the 10,000m race.
In the throwing events, Lia Rangamar debuts in the javelin throw, while Sylvan Rangamar, Daniel Joab, and Ron Olopai compete in the discus. Seiya Eda, Denis Samson, Dylan Ackerman, Doris Rangamar, Jaynard White, and Jason Lampkin are the other members of the team and will be competing in the last two days of the athletics events.
Meanwhile, though baseball competition starts today, the CNMI will not be playing until tomorrow when it faces Palau at Daini Field at 9am (8am Saipan time). Today’s opening game has the host challenging the defending champion Palau at 9am, while Guam duels Kosrae in the second match at 1pm.
The CNMI Baseball Team was the second group from the Commonwealth to arrive in Pohnpei, making it to the host state last Friday. The swim squad was the first one, as it has been in Pohnpei since last Monday.
The Commonwealth’s canoe, weightlifting, and spearfishing teams will arrive in Pohnpei mid this week.