Men’s National Basketball Team head coach Rufino Aguon wants to assemble the best local players the CNMI can offer, but also hinted that he would not shy away from tapping off-island cagers to assure the Commonwealth makes a good showing in the basketball competition of the 2006 Micronesian Games.
Aguon, who also coached the Men’s National Basketball Team in the 2002 Micronesian Games in Pohnpei, said he is hoping to bring together the “best of the best the island can offer, especially players that have competed in the Bud Cup (Budweiser Cup-BANMI Men’s Island-wide Basketball League) and other international events.”
He, however, also said he would welcome off-island players provided they inform him as soon as possible about their interest in joining the squad .
“Of course, they are welcome to join the team, but they need to contact me about their interest so we can plan their participation,” he said.
Although he also readily admitted that a player’s height is always a definite advantage, he also stressed that a player must also have the requisite skills to go along with his physical attributes.
On the kind of team he wants to field for the Games, Aguon said he wants to field a speedy and athletic team that could also thrive well in the half-court set and is defense-oriented.
“But ultimately, it will all depend on the individuals that are selected. Their skills and athleticism will determine the kind of game we will play,” he said.
He said like in the past, Guam would again be the team to beat in the Games.
“Guam is always the favorite, but the other island-nations are always very competitive. As for the team to be assembled, well, this will depend on the participation (players). Our goal is to put a very competitive team together and be able to meet the challenge of the other teams and hopefully excel,” he said.
Whatever the composition of the 15-player national team is, one thing would be a definite, according to the veteran bench tactician—training would be intense and rigorous.
“We will start with two days a week of strength, plyometric, and conditioning exercise (February). Increase the training schedule in March to three days a week with more concentration on conditioning. In April, the schedule would be four times a week with more on-court team plays—both on offense and defense—and more intensity on conditioning. In May, we will be up to five days a week, and hopefully we can also do some scrimmages with other competitive teams,” he said.
Like other sports, Aguon said the Basketball Association of the Northern Mariana Islands would again seek the assistance of the community in the team’s fundraising activities.
“We would obviously need help from the community, especially the business sector, to fund the uniforms and other items needed for the team. Fortunately since we are hosting, the cost will be very minimal compared to sending a team off island,” he said.
Although, he would not like to predict how well his yet-to-be-assembled team would fare, Aguon said, the basketball-loving public can be certain of one thing: The CNMI Men’s National Basketball Team “will always represent their home islands as best they can!”